Promised Land, startting Matt Damon as the agent of the energy company and John Krasinski as the environmentalist, is a fairly good introduction to the "fracking" process of getting natural gas out of the ground, but it falls a bit into the stereotypes of entertainment movies, and seriously dilutes its message about the pros and cons of the fracking process.
Damon gets a couple of good speeches about the financial benefits and the desperate situation of the small landowners, and Krasinski does a great high school presentation of the hazards of fracking. But a lot of emphasis is placed on Damon's honest and straightforward selling technique vs. Krasinski's showmanship and charisma, and there's a surprise ending that is believable and effective but blurs the point even more. I have to ignore the surprise ending and will suggest no more about it. But for those who are new to the controversy, the facts are clear-- and that's the best thing about Promised Land.
The tragic dilemma of the owners of land that can no longer support them is mentioned, but not much more. There is too little detail to let us feel along with them. And there is mercifully little sentimentality about the old family farm and its ancestral burial ground. The love story involving Rosemarie DeWitt is not overdone, nor is Frances McDormand's rather amoral professionalism.
But Promised Land, while a good introduction to an extremely important environmental problem, is not more than an introduction. Let's hope it inspires people to look further.