It was recently announced by Focus Features – the studio also behind the release of Wes Anderson’s much anticipated Moonrise Kingdom – that production had begun on what looks like a highly promising new release, written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, who’d teamed up with Focus studios once before with Away We Go, directed by Gus Van Sant (Milk, To Die For) and based on Dave Egger’s novel of the same name, Promised Land is the story of big business colliding with the inhabitants of a small American town.
Matt Damon, who co-wrote the script, will also star in the film as Steve Butler, one of two corporate salesmen who arrive in a rural town in search of drilling rights. Butler along with his partner, Sue Thomason, played by the legendary Frances McDormand, is faced with a much greater challenge than they’d initially bargained for, brought on by objections from a local schoolteacher (Hal Holbrook) – bringing to light the damage that the proposed actions will have on the town’s water supply. The bigger picture is expected to be one which explores the damage that corporate greed is capable of inflicting on small communities and the power that a strong sense of community is capable of creating.
Gus Van Sant signed on to the project after Damon handed over the directing job as a result of an overly hectic workload – a film that would have been the actor’s directorial debut. Now, Van Sant should take hold of the project and guide it in a direction that only he can. And with his impressive history, excitement seems inevitable. What’s more, with such a talented cast, including Damon, McDormand (Fargo, Burn After Reading), Holbrook (Into The Wild) and Scoot McNairy, it only seems right to anticipate this film with intrigue.
The script has been said to be filled with both humour and sentiment, with qualities somewhat reminiscent of Frank Capra. While Focus owns the rights to the film, it is being funded by Participant Media, a company focusing primarily on documentaries and feature films. The entertainment company also has films such as An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting For “Superman”, the Crazies and Contagion (also attached to Damon) under its name.
Promised Land is set to be a skilfully crafted drama that deals with American identity with a political and economic background. It is known that no release date is absolutely certain as of now, but filming has gotten underway and the film is expected at some point around 2013, so look out for it around that time.