Promised Land was very enjoyable, considering the trailer made it look like a complete waste of time. The story was compelling and there were a few things that surprised me, in a good way. I will say that it’s a bit distracting having Jim from The Office in it, but he actually did a pretty good job.
My favorite part of the movie was definitely the cinematography. It was very similar to My Own Private Idaho in its beautiful landscape. Gus Van Sant can be hit or miss with me and I’m happy I saw this. I can’t say I’ll see it again but you should check it out. Seriously.
Of all the things I expected Promised Land to do, one of them was not remind me of director’s Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho. The stories are next to nothing alike, but they are shot similarly, that is, beautifully. Van Sant does not waste the fact that his story takes place in the Midwest, and while he might glamorize the landscape a little bit, he’s really just showing that he knows how to really shoot a film.
I was nervous about Promised Land. We saw it at a free preview screening, and after the fiasco of Not Fade Away, my hopes for Promised Land dwindled. Even though it’s Van Sant, plus Matt Damon, John Krasinski, and Frances McDormand, I was nervous. When I saw that the story was done by Dave Eggers, and that Damon and Krasinski co-wrote the script, I got more optimistic. And once the movie started, I forgot all about my trepidation. My main concern (and expectation) was that it was going to preachy, that there would be an obvious good versus evil conflict between big business and the environment. But Promised Land really plays with this delicate conflict of Money In A Shitty Economy vs. Integrity. As Sue (Frances McDormand) says after Steve (Matt Damon’s) revelation about the importance of the environment, “It’s just a job.”
I also feel like I oddly identified with Steve. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but the way he deals with conflict in his job reminded me of myself. I guess it’s also the idea of being in a job that you truly enjoy and are good at, even though it might not be what you had wanted for yourself, another quality Steve and I share. Luckily, my job doesn’t have ambiguous morals, but I still felt like I knew where Steve was coming from.
Also, Promised Land made me super homesick for Illinois. Beautiful.