Monday, January 14, 2013

Film Note: 'Promised Land'

The Dream
In 'Promise Land', Lion Gates' latest cinematic release, our American dream is examined from where past generations have come to where this generation has the potential to go.  The experience between those two points is the film's back story of who we are as a people.

Matt Damon portrays charismatic Steve Butler, one half of an infantry team  sent  by a global gas fracking corporation to an economically depressed rural area. The team's job is to lease rights to minerals  lying beneath the local  landowners' properties.

For the townspeople, mortgages are to be paid, children are to be educated,  life is to be made just a little more comfortable. For the corporation expecting to use these rights to frack the abundance of natural gas from the land--profits are to be made. Milk and honey time has arrived for both sides.

The Experience
'Butler and his partner, Sue Thomason as played by Frances McDormand, discover one unanticipated consequence after another while the two attempt to acquire the extremely profitable leasing rights sought by their multi-billionaire employer.

As  Thomason and Butler engage to do so,  'Promised Land' examines choices that life so often requires us to make. The film also points out opposing values we usually face as soon as we try to make such choices. 

 The Hal Holbrook character, Frank Yates becomes the first  interloper  to progress as they attempt to close local prospects. John  Krasinski's character, Dustin Noble, becomes the next. Krasinski and Damon co-wrote the screenplay.

'Promised Land' surprises in the end, bringing viewers back to two important questions woven throughout the film. What kind of life do we want, and  just how much of that part of who we are--are we willing to sacrifice to get it?

The story twists and turns, rendering all of its characters as very common place folk-- each  deciding  as a member of the community and as individuals, the answer to both questions.

The Business Implication

Is  not the promised land  the place we all seek?

Who  could resist the offering of such a place? We want our businesses and our lives to dwell in a land without complications. To reside in such a place is the reason we do all that we can do to partake of its hoped-for goodness.

As I viewed 'Promised Land', it brought to mind another important food for thought for me.  If anything is worth having--including the promised land--is  not that thing worth getting in the right way?

Surely, as 'Promised Land' suggests, if there is one richness that we can pass  to our children, that richness is neither money nor land--but this most important wisdom: 

     The value of 'what is right'  will forever be for each of them, an inexhaustible power .

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