A meticulous horticulturist who is devoted to tending the grounds of a beautiful estate and pandering to his employer, the wealthy dowager.

Director: Paul Schrader
Writer: Paul Schrader
Staring: Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Quintessa Swindell
Rated: R
Release Date: May 19, 2023

I am a newcomer to Paul Schrader, but am a willing learner. I have only seen The Card Counter (2021) and First Reformed (2019), both of which I enjoyed very much and still have thoughts about now. From what i have seen, and have heard about, Schrader has a formula and the primary variable is a dark, dreary, and quietly dangerous man.

Folks, we have that there with Master Gardner (2023). Paul Schrader has recruited Joel Edgerton to play the poetic, plant loving hitman Narvel Roth. In looks like he has a past in the military (much like Oscar Issac’s Tell character in The Card Counter) but has rebuilt himself as a nurturing man planting seeds for the future. Literally I mean, in terms of gardening. Roth has an odd relationship with Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver), an elderly wealthy women who wants to help out her grand niece Maya (Quintessa Swindell). Norma wants Roth to tutor Maya and help her back on a a proper path after she dropped out of school and began hanging out with a bad crowd.

An odd father-esq relationship with a young character that has some character flaws? Have we seen that before? I kid. This is very much like The Card Counter again, and we can also do all the way back to Taxi Driver (1976) that Schrader wrote. Schrader knows his lane, and he is flying down the highway right now with no one in front of him.

I am excited to see Joel Edgerton. His latest project was Thirteen Lives (2022) which I have not seen yet because I don’t know how it will match the documentary The Rescue (2021). However seeing him popup in The Green Knight (2021) as The Lord and Falstaff in The King (2019) made me happy. I am a simple man. Edgerton always seems to have something simmering underneath. He reminds me a bit of Ethan Hawke when he turns up the drama.

Quintessa Swindell plays the part of Maya, the young niece who needs to be helped. At least according to her grandmother. Maya comes under the tutelage of Roth, hopefully learning his patience and attention to details when it comes to the little things. No doubt she is going to be the daughter-esq figure who begins to peel the layers of her adopted father figure. Someone they get on the topic of killing as we see in the trailer, so safe to say her conversations are not strictly your normal young woman variety. We last say Swindell in Black Adam (2022) playing a boring super-hero. This character will be much more fledged out.

Sigourney Weaver gets to play the caring but hard-nosed grandmother-esq figure. A bit of a change from playing teenage Kiri in Avatar: The Way Of Water (2022). She is characterized as a wealthy dowager in the log line, so why not have some fun playing the matriarch of the family.

Can we talk about the log line for a second. Do you know what “meticulous horticulturist” means? I had to look it up. One could have said plant enthusiast, but Schrader went with meticulous horticulturist. The character of Roth is a detailed driven man. He knows what he is doing. around the garden, and it appears like he knows what he is doing around guns as well. Master Gardner is not going to be about budding rosebuds. I think it is going to be thorny, so if you decide that the story peaks your interest, I wouldn’t expect to have your funny bone pricked.

Master Gardner comes out on May 19, 2023.

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