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DVD review: 'Promised Land' strong on issues, weak as drama

Published April 25, 2013 5:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Grade • B

DVD • Director Gus Van Sant's drama "Promised Land" aims to boil down a complex issue — the environmental damage of the type of natural-gas drilling known as "fracking" — but sometimes trips over its own earnestness.

Matt Damon stars as Steve Butler, an energy company consultant who goes into a rural New York town trying to buy up drilling leases from the locals, with vague promises of big money and glib answers to environmental qualms. Then a crotchety science teacher (Hal Holbrook) raises concerns, and a charming environmentalist (John Krasinski) hits town to mount an opposition campaign.

The script (by Damon and Krasinski) lays out the issues with lucidity, but overplays the Frank Capra-style melodrama. —

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