Director: Paul Schrader
2023, 107 min, R
In 2022 76-year-old Paul Schrader won Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Venice and Zurich Film Festivals, overdue recognition of a 50-year career including his provocative films Taxi Driver (as screenwriter), American Gigolo, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, and Affliction as writer/director. Master Gardener is the third of a loose trilogy (with First Reformed and The Card Counter that distills Schrader’s frequent subject of isolated men looking for redemption. Australian actor Joel Edgerton (The Underground Railroad) stars as brilliant master gardener Narvel Roth, who makes a paradise of Gracewood estate, owned by Mrs. Haverhill (the great Sigourney Weaver.) When Mrs. Haverhill asks Roth to take on her “wayward” biracial niece (Quintessa Swindell of Euphoria) as an apprentice, he agrees to share his deep horticultural knowledge. But as they grow closer, Roth’s despicable past comes to light, threatening their relationship and his road to redemption. “Sigourney Weaver is fascinating…there is a tenderness to “Master Gardener” that may prove its biggest surprise.” Laila Latif, IndieWire.