Promised Land movie poster. An adult drama with Oscar possibilities.

The main question many people ask about a film this time of year is, “is it Oscar worthy?”. In the case of the new environmental drama, Promised Land, it might not get the award nominations it deserves but it is still a fine piece of filmmaking. Steve Butler (Matt Damon) is a salesman for a Natural Gas company whose job it is to go into small towns and have people sign over drilling rights. He is good at what he does and his charm and average guy demeanor help him succeed. The film focuses on one such town that Steve goes into where he runs into opposition not only from a few townspeople but a grassroots environmentalist (John Krasinski) set on getting the truth out about Natural Gas drilling.

This is a well written perfectly acted adult drama. In ways it will remind you of the very successful Erin Brockovich movie. Though not as cut and dry on who the bad guy is it still captures a part of working class America and how it deals with choices when money is on the table. Steve Butler isn’t a swindler or a cheat; just a guy trying to help people earn some extra money during a tough economy. He thinks his company is offering a way out for many land owners. It isn’t until he gets involved with the people and their lives that he has to do some soul searching.

Films of this nature are void of over the top action, explosions, and sex pummeled dialogue. Therefore it has to rely on a script that tells a riveting story. It has a nice, relaxed pace and allows you to ease into the lives and setting of the characters. It isn’t hokey with its conversations and doesn’t try and preach one side or the other. It simply lets the characters convey their message while allowing you to know that not everything is exactly as it seems. You know something is bubbling just under the surface.

The entire cast is wonderful. Along with Krasinski and Damon, Frances McDormand plays Steve’s co-worker along with him to try and close these deals. She is a sounding board for Butler and fits well in the ensemble. Rosemarie DeWitt plays a local who catches Steve’s eye. It is through her that he gets a better perspective on the towns people. DeWitt is charming and warm and exudes a character that you would expect to find in Middle America. You want to sit with her and have a drink and just talk about your day. Plus the chemistry between her and Damon is spot on. You love seeing them onscreen together.

Promised Land is rated R for language. It is an adult film only due to the nature of the story and the feel of the film. The language isn’t harsh and the worst section is a small conversation that Butler has with a local. Other than that you will find nothing offensive or awkward in this movie. I give it a solid 4 out of 5 dotted lines. Though you may not hear it mentioned in all the award buzz it is certainly one that may have been sadly overlooked.

Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2013 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.


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