6.6/10
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122 user 244 critic

Promised Land (2012)

R | | Drama | 4 January 2013 (USA)
Trailer
2:30 | Trailer
A salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.

Director:

Gus Van Sant

Writers:

John Krasinski (screenplay), Matt Damon (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Damon ... Steve Butler
Benjamin Sheeler ... Attendant
Terry Kinney ... David Churchill
Carla Bianco Carla Bianco ... Waitress
Joe Coyle ... Michael Downey
Hal Holbrook ... Frank Yates
Dorothy Silver ... Arlene
Frances McDormand ... Sue Thomason
Titus Welliver ... Rob
Lexi Cowan ... Drew's Girl
Tim Guinee ... Drew Scott
Sara Lindsey ... Claire Allen
Frank Conforti ... Coach
Garrett Ashbaugh Garrett Ashbaugh ... Basketball Player
Jericho Morgan Jericho Morgan ... Jericho (as Jerico Morgan)
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Storyline

Corporate salesman Steve Butler (Matt Damon) arrives in a rural town with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (McDormand). With the town having been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, the two outsiders see the local citizens as likely to accept their company's offer, for drilling rights to their properties, as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job for the duo becomes complicated by the objection of a respected schoolteacher (Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (Krasinski) who counters Steve both personally and professionally. Written by Focus Features

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What's your price?

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 January 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Terra Prometida See more »

Filming Locations:

Apollo, Pennsylvania, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$173,915, 30 December 2012

Gross USA:

$7,597,898

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,138,788
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally, this movie was supposed to be Matt Damon's directorial debut. But due to short time to prepare for the movie and also some creative conflicts, Damon dropped out as the director (but remained as an actor) and Gus Van Sant came aboard to direct. See more »

Goofs

The brochure and poster talk about how fracking by the company, "Global..." will 'effect' (noun) the community; the correct spelling/usage is 'affect' (verb). See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Steve Butler: You the owner of this place?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Through most of the end credits, the camera zooms out to a wide shot of the town where the film takes place. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.54 (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Help Me Make It Through the Night
Written by Kris Kristofferson
Performed by Sammi Smith
Courtesy of Sammi Smith Estate
Under license from Nola Leone/Ace Music Services, LLC
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Dry Land
7 September 2013 | by p-stepienSee all my reviews

Matt Damon, once again functioning in the dual role of scriptwriter and main actor, reengages with director Gus van Sant (previous joint ventures include "Gerry" and the Oscar-winning "Good Will Hunting") in search of another fruitful cooperative endeavour . Based on a concept written by Dave Eggers and co-scripted by co-star John Krasinski, "Promised Land" is an extremely competent piece of story-telling, however laboured by a somewhat unconvincing fictionalisation of the matter at hand.

A touchy environmental issue has been presented in one of Gus van Sant's most down-to-earth and standard features to date, where the devilish fracking industry is the focus of a well-meant, if mishitting, effort. Steve Butler (Matt Damon) works as a consultant for the gas industry, roaming the countryside purchasing up land destined for exploitation by deep drilling. Together with the rigid Sue Thompson (Frances McDormand) they form an effective team, effortlessly buying up land in the idyllic small towns, strained by lack of cash, thus falling into financial despair. The gas shelves offer an option for easy cash - leasing the land and energy resources hidden deep in its bowels, thus bringing promise for better days. When Butler and Thompson are sent by their employer Global Crosspower Solutions to a cash-starved Pennsylvania farming community, the land seems ripe for the picking. Nonetheless the dark side of the industry slowly filters through, when the ecological soundness of the natural gas fracking process is brought into question by Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook), a physics professor emeritus teaching at a local school. Troubles slowly start arising, coupled by the arrival of environmentalist Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), who initiates a grassroots campaign against fracking. The two soon start to compete for victory, not only amongst the community, but also with regards to the heart of small-town beauty Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt).

Given the continuing discussion regarding the business, who on the outside wants to appear clean, whilst simultaneously sweeping all burning faucets, poisoned wells and dead livestock under the social radar, "Promised Land" could have been an important voice in the discussion, at least forcibly bringing the issue into the public eye. However the restraint shown in presenting the controversies behind fracking seem to be a missed opportunity, as the movie slowly drifts away from the core issue towards an order of melodrama and bickering between two sides of the debate. Not much however is done to present the controversy itself: Is fracking really a threat? Or are we just supposed to decide by ourselves through google after watching the movie? Naturally "Promised Land" isn't a documentary, hence the factual layer is nowhere as dedicated and impacting as in the groundbreaking "Gas Land". Nonetheless the lack of contextualisation is evident, offering too much space for any side to decide for themselves. Much focus is offered towards the question of whether the impoverished farm-owners should just take the money and renege their environmental fears. When someone's livelihood is at stake is it moral and right to ignore ecology? Somewhere amongst this nuanced approach to the issue, the question lingers: is there any reason to really fret regarding fracking or is this whole discussion just pointless? A well researched scene featuring Hal Halbrook would have done the movie a world of good...

Thankfully the script by Damon and Kosinski refrains from painting a cosy picture of right or wrong, presenting the local town life as a simple debate amongst immediate gratification and the perspectives of losses in the future. However the somewhat idyllic presentation of small town life causes the poignancy level of the question to drop, a far cry from the doom and gloom on offer in "Gas Land", the desperation lingering in people's eyes. Damon himself is well cast as a small-town boy fully dedicated to the company and the riches it offers, as a positive alternative. A far cry from a dastardly cooperative mug, his much more level-headed character is a welcome change, which avoids demonizing the people behind the problems. This occasionally helps to strengthen the rivalry for people's hearts, showing that the issue isn't an easy issue to resolve as either side would want to portray. Nonetheless this ambiguity also works against the movie, offering many points of view, but failing to truly show an in-depth focus on any, instead swaggering away into standard dramatic contrivances and a somewhat unwelcome twist at the end, which unravels much of the prior arguments, instead leaving focus on issues, which shouldn't really be the point of the movie. To some extent the characters and their tribulations override the integral story, somewhat collapsing the concept.


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