Title: Promised Land
Director: Gus Van Sant
This film should’ve been Matt Damon’s director debut (he is one of the co-writer and co-producer) since Ben Affleck is hot on fire in his director chair, it must be quite tempting for Matt to follow his suit. Then for unknown reasons, he backed up from directing while remaining in starring in it. So a safe backup stand-in is Gus Van Sant, to whom Matt and Ben will forever indebted for the sake of GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997), so the proviso here is that one should not expect it as a true Gus Van Sant’s vehicle than a tossed-off understudy product under his belt (as I will not call his previous film RESTLESS 2011).
The trailer can also be misguiding, if one appraises from its juicy backstory, then assumes it will be another righteous individuals vs. global gas company on ecological terms of winning the moral and monetary victory, or another ERIN BROCKOVICH (2000), PROMISED LAND never goes that far to unveil a certain impulse of inspirational excitement, and craftily it engineers on a personal route of redemption and choosing the right way to go, with a trifle soppy sentiment and hasty conspiracy theory.
Matt Damon is always playing Matt Damon (even in the action-packed BOURNE series), less an articulate orator than George Clooney, but wearing a much humbler ordinary-joe outfit, his final confession is banal but teemed with sincerity and earnestness, also an emotional spiel in the pub, which will wrought a punch in the face soon after, might end up as the highlights in his acting stretches.
Frances McDormand, is excellent as usual, hardly shines with her sidelined role, basically as an observer, her character holds up a well-maintained bulwark and conveys a more reality-concerned authenticity. John Krasinski (also a co-writer and co-producer), oozes a smug confidence throughout, until it comes his “twist-revealing”segment, switching between two antagonistic parties could never be easier or more shameless from his gauche utterance, also the twist is very lame (maybe I’ve watched too many USA TV series since I literally felt it coming and prayed it would not be the case). Rosemarie DeWitt, Krasinski’s significant other in reality, curbed by the benevolent nature of her role, is too trivial to mention. The only solid supporting performance is from Hal Holbrook, the one and only brain among the villagers, concludes the film with his concern on the focal point, how we can juggle with both the advantage of our modern life and the elephant-in-the-room ramifications it instigates, we all want to take the high ground of morality while not giving up our various privileges, there is no such good things, a pipe dream for all.
To conclude, PROMISED LAND has its languid pace and formulaic structure, the palette is enjoyable, but it is just a foil in Gus Van Sant’s erratic filmography, period.