Niagara Gazette —
Directed by Gus Van Sant, and written by actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski, both of whom star, the movie follows Damon, an energy company employee, as he and his partner (Frances McDormand) try to get citizens of Western Pennsylvania to sign leases so that fracking can occur on their private property. Krasinski is an environmentalist opposed to the practice. There’s also a high school science teacher (a wonderful Hal Holbrook) and a corny romantic subplot involving a female teacher and Damon. The careful film examines both sides of the issue.
“Promised Land” has a real paint-by-numbers feel to it. I question the ending, but it’s what was decided by Damon, Krasinski, and Van Sant. Nicely acted, the superficial movie doesn’t quite plod, but it also doesn’t overly energize the arguments for or against fracking. It’s an earnest and cautious civics lesson about a subject that has divided communities. I’m glad I saw the film, but it needed to be a little less “Hollywood” and a little more aggressive. It needed a harder edge.
Email reviewer Michael Calleri at moviecolumn@gmail.