Principled screenplay digs deep

Principled screenplay digs deep

Natural-gas company employees Steve (Matt Damon) and Sue (Frances McDormand) have been entrusted with a controversial task. Promised Land really starts as they arrive in a poor rural town, offering quick money to farmers in exchange for fracking rights. Fracking is the controversial method of drilling for natural gas, which risks polluting soil and water.

Steve may be the company's ace salesman, but he's not a typical villain. He starts out as a genuine believer in the billion-dollar company he works for, and is convinced that the money he is offering will give the dying town a bright future. But as he faces resistance from the townsfolk and a tireless activist (John Krasinski), the film turns to focus on Steve's heartfelt internal struggle.

Co-written by Damon and Krasinski, the film is a familiar drama of conscience that is surprisingly charming and witty. There is sympathy for the two corporate representatives even while honouring the heritage of small town communities, director Gus Van Sant managing to find a human angle for the social issue.

The complexity of the whole natural gas issue may be downplayed, but with the twists and turns of the plot, Promised Land is still a refreshing watch.

YP Rating: 3/5

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