Thanks to Universal Ireland I attended the Press screening of Promised Land Directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Mat Damon, Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, John Krasinski etc.
Damon and McDormand work for Global whose job it is to sign up the residents of an economically ailing farming community to their idea that there is gas to be found on their land. The topic of Fracking combined with a charming environmentalist slows down the process of getting the locals to sign away their rights.
This has the makings of a cheesy and well-trodden-sentimental-David vs. Goliath-TV Movie but when Director Gus Van Sant buddies up with Matt Damon for the first time since Good Will Hunting, letting Damon and co-star John Krasinski craft a snappy and witty script, combine that with a weighty cast, they come up with a different perspective making this an enjoyable 1hr 55 mins.
The well-used story-line is turned on it’s side, Damon and McDormand are the corporate bullies but also the main characters. We get enough of a glimpse into their lives to understand that they have their own reasons to believe they are doing the right thing, whether their motivation is the memory of their own farming background or having a teenage son to put through college. They are comfortably believable work colleagues and this is nicely set up in less than a handful of scenes.
On the other side is Hal Holbrook (who brings gravitas to any movie) provides the spanner for John Krasinski (The US Office), the confident Environmentalist, who seems to know exactly where in the works to place the tool and manages to ‘frack’ the plans of Global.
Rosmarie DeWitt provides the love interest but also embodies the residents as she becomes the main pawn in her dealing with both Damon and Krasinski.
In the end it manages to fall back on the sentimentality of a TV Movie but there are enough solid performances, some genuine laughs and surprises along the way to keep you entertained.
Promised Land opens in Ireland on April 19th
Cert : PG