Samstag, 2. Februar 2013

Film Review – ‚Promised Land’ with Matt Damon

Picture: wikipedia /Cropped version of a picture posted on Flickr asème Festival de Venise (Mostra)

When I walked out of the cinema after having watched Promised Land’, I had a bad conscience. I felt guilty about not feeling anything. I knew, that I should be affected. The movie is against poor farmers being exploited by gas extractors, which are descending on them like a swarm of locusts, leaving behind poisoned groundwater, dead cows and farming communities, that have lost their means of existence. The movie fights for a good cause and Matt Damon is one of Hollywood’s most distinguished actors, so I thought, I really should be ... well, but I wasn’t. But why?
The movie lacks drama. It is about a dramatic issue – that’s true – but the characters we are watching are static. Steve Butler is good, when he enters the stage and he stays good until the end. The company, that he is working for – Global Crosspower Solutions – is pure evil (and stays evil). Without knowing, Steve makes false promises to the farmers. He doesn’t seem to know anything about the dangers of gas extraction by fracking. He has a good heart, but he doesn’t have Google. Obviously. Steve is a character out of a fairy tale, but ‚Promised Land’ is no fairy tale. It’s about real problems, but it isn’t about real people.
All we know about Steve is that he is a former farm boy. He doesn’t have a family of his own, which could put him into some conflict, his relationship to his colleague is superficial, there is a nice lady in town (of course), but he doesn’t fight for her. Matt Damon plays his character in an authentic way, but the character is far too one-dimensional to be affecting.
There is an unexpected plot twist in the end, but it doesn't reveal anything new. It makes the evil even worse and pushes the good guy to a good decision.
‚Promised Land’ isn’t a bad movie but it falls short of expectations. With a topic like that and a leading actor like Matt Damon you would just expect so much more. And that’s a pity. But I still feel guilty – somehow.

2-3 stars (out of 5).

A  more detailed film review (in german) is available here.

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