iTunes Trailers has released the first trailer for Promised Land, Gus Van Sant‘s latest collaboration with Matt Damon, their first since 2002’s Gerry. It explores the controversial subject of ‘fracking’ in the heartland of America, and may be the mainstream film to give the subject the shake-up it needs.
Matt Damon plays Steve Butler, an ace corporate salesman who is sent along with his partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand), to close a key rural town in his company’s expansion plans. 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 (Hal Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (John Krasinski), as well as the interest of a local woman (Rosemarie DeWitt).
At The Reel Bits, we don’t just post trailers now, we review them too. This is Trailer Talk. Check out our thoughts after viewing the trailer below.
The subject of hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) was dealt with quite successfully in Josh Fox’s documentary GasLand (2010), shining a harsh light on a subject that quite literally threatens to rip apart a piece of the farming community. While the process allows the drillers to mine previously unreachable pockets of natural gas, research has shown that it has serious effects on the people and environment around the areas, from gas leaks to groundwater contamination, seismicity and even radioactivity. That documentary has been at the centre of the debate on the subject, but this film has the possibility of bringing the issue to a wider audience.
Promised Land promises to be a dramatic piece, primarily pitching well-known actors Damon and Krasinski against each other to show the different sides of the debate, throwing in the always wonderful Rosemarie DeWitt as the woman that they are both interested in. As always, Van Sant has assembled an amazing cast that also includes Hal Holbrook and Frances McDormand, but also Jarhead‘s Lucas Black, Argo’s Titus Welliver and Scoot McNairy (Monsters) further down the credits.
Whether this will be a balanced view or not is almost irrelevant, as this is a film that will get people talking about this important issue again. This is especially apt in New South Wales here in Australia, where the State Government under the Liberal Party’s Barry O’Farrell has replaced a five-year moratorium on fracking with an industry Code of Practice.
Bits Rating: ★★★★