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Following the fortunes of four young adults, this third picture from the producer-director team of Rick Stevenson and Michael Hoffman seeks to examine the unfulfilled promises of the American Dream. High school basketball star Davey Hancock (Jason Gedrick) is bound for college on an
athletic scholarship. His friend, Danny Rivers (Kiefer Sutherland), drops out of school and leaves the little town of Ashville, Utah. Two years later, Davey is an Ashville policeman, having failed to make the grade in college ball, who is trying to hold onto his girlfriend, Mary (Tracy Pollan),
whose horizons have been broadened by college. In Nevada, Danny marries Bev (Meg Ryan), an impetuous hellraiser whom he has known for only three days, and heads back to Ashville to visit his parents. As the four young people converge, Bev, drugged, drunken, and psychotic, precipitates disaster.
PROMISED LAND is a well-intentioned film, but despite strong performances, an engaging plot, and some arresting photography, its ambitious reach exceeds its grasp. Instead of being shown as the stuff of which American Dreams are made, the picture's symbolism has a grafted-on quality. However,
Hoffman still delivers an intriguing, well-paced story that draws the viewer in as it builds to its tragic climax. The photography of the mountains, plains, and huge Western skies is gorgeous, and Hoffman's use of the camera is occasionally dazzling.