Matt Damon’s latest film Promised Land dramatizes the debate about fracking’s environmental risks vs. economic benefits, just in time for New York State’s critical choice whether or not to end a statewide moratorium on drilling. Governor Cuomo must decide by February 27. (See our previous coverage.)
But clear answers to crucial policy decisions about drilling for natural gas are not really provided in the film for many reasons.
Daniel Penner summarizes the movie’s plot for Grist magazine, making it seem like an anti-fracking film:
“Corporate salesman and all-American good guy Steve Butler (Matt Damon) tries to sell a teeny, depressed Pennsylvania town on the benefits (i.e. mad cash money) of fracking. Just as it looks like we’re headed for a happy ending, with a well on every plot and a fat wallet in every pocket, Butler is thwarted by a tenacious environmentalist (John Krasinski), some bad press, and a plaid-clad voice of wisdom (Hal Holbrook).”
But Environmental Defense Fund expert, Mark Brownstein, says the film isn’t just about fracking. He writes:
“Promised Land is a movie about what happens before the drilling rigs and man camps rumble into town. It is the story of a rural community, proud but poor, struggling to reconcile itself with an enormous economic opportunity that comes at an enormous cost. And, despite what you may have read in the blogosphere, it is not reflexively anti-natural gas. The movie actually does a fairly decent job of presenting all sides of the shale gas development debate.”
In fact, several reviewers point out that John Krasinski, who stars in the film and co-authored the screenplay, switched the storyline that was actually about a major wind farm development, to a story about natural gas development.
Brownstein says that the main point of the film is not designed to disparage fracking but “to explore what happens when money and power come to a rural community that has neither.”
The film is playing in local theaters, starting this weekend, including Clearview Cinema in Bronxville, Regal New Roc Cinema in New Rochelle, and Showcase Cinema de Lux Ridge Hill in Yonkers.
Let us know what you think.
Photos: Focus Features