Even though it was written by and stars two Massachusetts boys, “Promised Land” (2012, Universal, R, $30) is a Pennsylvania movie through and through.
Not only does the film deal with fracking, a hot-button issue in the Keystone State, but it also was shot outside Pittsburgh in Westmoreland, Armstrong and Allegheny counties.
Matt Damon stars in the movie as a salesman for the fictional energy company Global Crosspower Solutions. Along with an associate (Monessen-reared Frances McDormand), he shows up in a rural area to persuade members of a financially strapped community to lease the drilling rights to their farmland.
What seems like an easy job for Damon and McDormand becomes complicated when a schoolteacher (Hal Holbrook) urges his neighbors to read the fine print and Damon finds himself drawn to a local woman (Rosemarie DeWitt.) When an environmental activist (co-writer John Krasinski) arrives, the situation grows even more intense. (Besides starring in the Scranton-set “Office,” Kransinki has another Pa. connection: His dad was born and raised in Pittsburgh).
Not unlike Elia Kazan’s similarly themed “Wild River,” the film works hard to paint its characters in shades of gray. It doesn’t dig deep enough, but a movie as potent and provocative as “Promised Land” is definitely worth checking out.