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Fracking, the controversial process to used to release natural gas for collection, drives the narrative of the new Gus Van Sant film, written by co-stars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, but the issue, which widens the already cavernous divide between Democrats and Republicans, never truly takes center stage.

Instead, what Van Sant and his affable screenwriting stars produce here is a film that harkens back to older American cinema and heartland values. Promised Land is about a fast-track corporate gainer (played by Damon) who rediscovers his not-quite-lost soul back in the communal homestead of his youth. The movie works on this level because audiences will be hard-pressed to ignore the all-American charms of Damon, who really, at this moment, the closest thing we have to a real life Captain America. (R) Grade: B