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

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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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