Promised Land

First Hit:  A film with a message about change in the United States.

How long will small towns survive in the United States, especially when work has gone wanting? How will they feed their families, send their children to college, and continue the life that was once mostly farming.

Steve Butler (played by Matt Damon) comes from one of those towns and he saw how his family lost their home and farm. He works for “Global” which leases farms where there are natural gas deposits, by giving the farmer a financial down payment and part of the profits from the gas they extract from the property.

The issue is that the system they use is called “fracking” which uses water and chemicals in their drilling to break up the shale and release the natural gas trapped in the shale. Problem is that it can contaminate the groundwater.

Steve is excellent at getting people to sign these leases because he’s honest and believes in giving people another option for their land. He's been through it and therefore believes in what his is doing. His co-worker, Sue Thompson (played by Frances McDormand), is his partner and is good at selling the leases. During the “selling” of the townsfolk in a community meeting at the gym, one of their townsfolk Frank Yates (played by Hal Holbrook) tells of the dangers of fracking. Steve indicates that there may be issues but Global takes the necessary precautions.

Then there is Dustin (played by John Krasinski) who rides into town in a light green truck representing Athena Environmental Group. He pushes for the townsfolk to vote against Global. It becomes a battle of wills, the truth and what is right between Dustin and Steve.

The battle is about the use of fracking and Alice (played by Rosemarie DeWitt) a local, pretty and eligible school teacher.

Damon, as usual, is outstanding. He plays the earnest thoughtful man who is willing to learn more about himself, and does this better than any actor I’ve seen. McDormand is wonderful as the sidekick who also frets about how much time she is spending away from her son. Holbrook’s resurgence as an actor in film has been wonderful and this performance continues to show his fine abilities. DeWitt is good as the attractive kind woman that captures the heart of the lead. Titus Welliver (as a store owner) is fantastic as the amused and interesting store owner. John Krasinski and Matt Damon wrote a wonderful and thoughtful script. Gus Van Sant’s direction was very good and some of the shots are absolutely brilliant.

Overall:  This was a thoughtful film and continues to have me asking questions about what small towns will do as farming is being taken over by conglomerates and manufacturing is being moved offshore.