Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Frances McDormand
Rosemarie DeWitt
Hal Holbrook
John Krasinski
Matt Damon.
Directors
Gus Van Sant.
Screenwriters
Matt Damon
John Krasinski.
Running Time
106 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Luna
2 Star Empire Rating
Great Train Robbery: A Tale Of Two Thieves, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Still The Enemy Within
4 Star Empire Rating
Knife That Killed Me, The
3 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating

Promised Land
My own privatised Idaho


submit to reddit


Plot
Slick salesman Steve Butler (Damon) arrives in a rural town to snap up farmland so his employers, Global Crosspower Solutions, can siphon out the natural gas via hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’. Resistance from an old-timer (Holbrook), a spunky environmentalist (Krasinski) and an attractive local teacher (DeWitt) will lead him to question his motives.


Review
Promised Land
Try as it might, Promised Land, produced, co-written and starring both Matt Damon and John Krasinski, with Gus Van Sant serenely at the helm, can’t help sinking into rural kitsch. There’s an inevitability to its outcomes, a movie gravity towards noble cliché. All of it building to that moment when, basking in his hard-won epiphany, our anti-hero tells us the goddamn truth of things. It’s a great moment, subtly done as these things go, but it spoils a better movie.

For its first half, if not more, the story walks an intriguing ethical line between two wrongs: the pillage of the land by energy companies and the pillage of the people by recession. But in daring uneven moral ground — surely the point — the film loses its courage and takes the (Doc) Hollywood road. Oh, the irresistible lure of those country bumpkins.

Damon’s Butler, armoured in a smile, knows his terrain: he still wears his grandfather’s working boots, signalling he grew up in just such a farming community as this Pennsylvania backwater. He’s got a store of old resentments to be tapped like natural gas. He knows what ruin is like, and that money offers a chance. For all their salesmanship, Global Crosspower Solutions’ Butler and his partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand), are preaching a form of salvation to these destitute farmers. They halfway believe in their message (the film ponders how jobs shape our identity). Would you sacrifice the land, if it meant sending your kids to college? Righteousness is for those who can afford it. For a moment, our expectations are confounded — maybe they have a point. After all, you can’t help but root for Damon.

Standing in Global’s way are two opposing forces. Wizened elder Hal Holbrook, face like a rucksack, croons that the cost may be greater than the price, but his lamentations struggle to sound more than rote despair. Better is Krasinski, with a fine line in smug grins and bad shorts as environmentalist Dustin Noble. He would rather needle his pent-up foe, and Van Sant has them strutting about car parks like bantam roosters. If the metaphor is clumsy, the infectiously natural Rosemarie DeWitt, as the town’s ‘undecided’ singleton, offers real sweetness.

If all of this suggests Local Hero, it lacks the mysticism hovering over that film like a mist — a sense of something to be valued beyond human dilemmas. Here there is a strict determination to encompass the sullen temperature of American economics, with familiar scenes of forlorn land-folk elbow-deep in tractor parts, dejected families mystified by paperwork, and heated town gatherings in high-school gyms.

For a good distance, the film juggles both corn-pone daydream and misery porn. Between its muddy moral games, Van Sant keeps things airy and crisply comic. Obvious plot points take amusingly unforeseen turns. The script has a fine ear for the offhand banter of working people, the wry shorthand of bar talk. Gradually, Van Sant and his writers become more and more enamoured with their small-town realism and Butler’s overdue enlightenment, and what once was provocative succumbs to the endearing.

The best advice, in this and most of life, is to cling to the pleasure of Frances McDormand’s company. That graceful worldliness she grants all she does. For Thomason this is a job, a means to look after her own family. Necessity, she suggests, is a personal choice.


Verdict
Another charming take on a familiar scenario: Northern Exposure with Jason Bourne. Which is a backhanded way of saying this is far from the challenging movie it promised to be.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Promised Land
Empire Star Rating

BREATH OF FRESH AIR

damon is class holbrook steals scenes and the cinematography is lovely http://www.movie2k.to/Promised-Land-watch-movie-250 7719.html ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bill the butcher at 18:36, 31 March 2013 | Report This Post


BREATH OF FRESH AIR

damon is class holbrook steals scenes and the cinematography is lovely http://www.movie2k.to/Promised-Land-watch-movie-250 7719.html ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bill the butcher at 18:28, 31 March 2013 | Report This Post


SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Bond Girls Who Made It Big
The actresses who overcame the curse of 007 to forge successful careers

The Future Of Film: A Woman Will Direct Star Wars
No longer a men’s club, Hollywood is going to start opening its doors...

The Empire Podcast #130: Interviews With Rosamund Pike, Lee Child And Antoine Fuqua
The Gone Girl star, Jack Reacher author and The Equalizer director pop in for a chat

The Future Of Film: Movie Posters Will Talk To You (And Buy Your Tickets)
Movie posters will be bigger, better... and talk to you?

The 50 Greatest Voice Performances In Movies
Who has the most talented tonsils in town?

25 Movie Songs Bigger Than The Movie
The film tunes that transcend their origins...

Denzel Washington: A Viewer’s Guide
The highs and lows of The Equalizer star’s career to date

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)