Master Gardener

Master Gardener, 2022, 3 stars

‘And all will be well in the garden’

Image copyright Magnolia Pictures and courtesy of the Florida Film Festival.

Exclusive to MeierMovies, April 1, 2023

“Gardening is a belief in the future,” Narvel Roth preaches, but it’s the character’s shocking past that forms the beating heart of this edgy drama from writer-director Paul Schrader.

This is familiar territory for Schrader, whose last directorial effort, The Card Counter, was a near-miss but whose previous offering, First Reformed, was one of the most revelatory films of 2017.

Master Gardener, controversial title and all, can be a tough watch, both in subject and aesthetic, as Schrader’s directing is not always up to presenting his powerful yet oddly on-the-nose screenplay. But Joel Edgerton is solid as he channels another understated landscaper, Peter Seller’s Chauncey Gardiner, from Being There. However, Sigourney Weaver, as the grand dame of the estate on which Roth works, unfortunately resembles another Sellers character, Fu Manchu. (At least Sellers had an excuse for his wooden performance: He was dying.) And Quintessa Swindell provides competent support as a troubled youth whom Roth lovingly prunes of weeds.

This capsule review is part of my coverage of the 2023 Florida Film Festival. For more information about the event and an index of reviews of other festival films, go here. For more information on this movie, visit IMDB.  

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