A love triangle involving the two men and a local schoolteacher (Rosemarie DeWitt) seems more like a commercial necessity than an integral part of the story, and the small-town types are indifferently realized by director Gus Van Sant.
While there's no faulting the talent or good intentions of the people involved, however, they make the mistake of leaving out the spoonful of sugar, which makes the medicine get stuck in your throat. It's all message and very little movie.
Promised Land is a hard-sell movie because it doesn't have the confidence in its audience to make any other outcome seem personally viable, to give the opposition a fighting chance or persuasive voice.
Promised Land presents its environmental concerns in a clear, upfront manner but hits some narrative and character bumps in the second half that weaken the impact of this fundamentally gentle, sympathetic work.