Saturday, June 8, 2013

Promised Land

Watched It - June 7, 2013

Stars - Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook
Director - Gus Van Sant
Rating - R (for language)

In 20 Words or Less - A representative for a natural gas company faces a crisis of conscience while trying to "close" on a small town.
Themes - Materialism, Loyalty, Self-reliance, Tradition, Choices, Consequences, Integrity, Conscience
Pros - I thought this movie was very well-filmed and very well-cast.  The soundtrack was subtle and worked well at setting the mood.  The plot was just lean enough to keep the movie from plodding along.  There was a nice plot-twist near the end that caught my attention.
Cons - For some reason, I kept thinking of the Pixar film Cars while watching Promised Land.  There are more than just a few similarities between them which leads to the major drawback of the latter of the two--there's nothing groundbreaking here. (The intended-pun in that sentence will only make sense if you've watched the movie.)  The plot of Cars wasn't particularly novel and neither is the plot of Promised Land.  It's a well-worn script that has seen dozens of iterations over the years.  Add to that the political/environmental/economic baggage inherent to a story about drilling for natural gas in a small town on its last legs and a somewhat awkward and hurried love interest subplot, and what you get is a movie that is mildly interesting but not particularly outstanding.  Another aspect that diminished my enjoyment of this movie was the lack of nuance in the story.  Promised Land fell prey to the shortcoming that beguiles so many politically-motivated movies.  It reduced a complex series of issues into either/or scenarios where the big, rich, powerful corporation is the bad guy and the only ones who really get it right are the salt-of-the earth townsfolk who may not have the brains but they have the heart to solve the problem.  I know that sounds cynical (maybe it is), but I finished watching the film thinking it was a bit too preachy, simplistic, and condescending for my taste.
Movie Moment - Matt Damon's speech to the townsfolk at the climax of the movie was good, but not enough to rescue the film.
Genuineness - 4 out of 10

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