Big-business greed meets small-town gumption in the first trailer for Gus Van Sant's award-season targeted "Promised Land."
Van Sant's film follows Steve Butler (Matt Damon), a sales rep for an energy company hell-bent on drilling for natural gas in a rural community. The company's method of gas extraction is called hydraulic fracturing -- or "fracking," a controversial process by which pressurized chemicals are pumped into the ground in order to release trapped gas. After the pollution caused by this "fracking" method affects a local farmer ("The Office" star John Krasinski), Butler soon finds a community up in arms against him and his company.
"Promised Land" represents Van Sant and Damon's first collaboration since 1997's "Good Will Hunting," a film that Damon just so happened to co-write. Similar to their previous collaboration, the "Promised Land" script (based on a story by Dave Eggers) was penned by Damon and another actor -- Krasinski himself. The fracking film was originally set to be Damon's directorial debut, but other work commitments kept the actor from helming it, so Van Sant was brought on board instead.
Watch the trailer for "Promised Land" below.
The hard-hitting and timely subject matter of "Promised Land" is sure to rustle a few feathers in the natural gas industry. Companies that have engaged in the hydraulic fracturing extraction process have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, due to some rather unfortunate incidents. Reports of spoiled land, flammable tap water, and deleterious health effects have consistently spilled out of areas where fracking has occurred. It's an issue that is clearly near and dear to both Damon and Krasinski, and the release of the film in advance of awards season is likely intended to give it the highest profile possible.
While "Promised Land" does appear to be a bit of an anti-fracking "message" film, that doesn't mean it won't be good. Whatever its motives, one cannot ignore the fact that the last time Damon wrote a script for a Van Sant movie, he and friend Ben Affleck came away with Oscars for Best Original Screenplay. Bolstered by what is probably a solid script and a strong supporting cast that includes Frances McDormand ("Fargo"), Rosemarie DeWitt ("Mad Men"), and Hal Holbrook ("All the President's Men"), it's safe to say that the film has a lot more going for it than just its message.
"Promised Land" hits theatres on January 13, 2013