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Master Gardener

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United States · 2023
1h 47m
Director Paul Schrader
Starring Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Quintessa Swindell, Esai Morales
Genre Drama, Thriller

Narvel Roth is a meticulous horticulturist who is devoted to tending the grounds of a beautiful estate and pandering to his employer, the wealthy dowager Mrs. Haverhill. When she demands that he take on her wayward and troubled great niece, it unlocks dark secrets from a buried violent past.

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What are critics saying?


Collider by Brian Formo

Schrader is able to prune back some of his more established impulses to service this particular story.


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

Joel Edgerton’s haunted central performance as former white supremacist Narvel Roth fits the essential Schrader mold of a troubled soul hiding from his demons. But little else rings true in a drama curiously lacking in texture, which misses the mark in lifeless scene after scene.


Total Film by Jane Crowther

Though it’s not Schrader’s finest work and requires political leaps of faith that can be compared to American History X and could be called simplistic, Master Gardener is still an auteur operating at the top of the league.


CineVue by John Bleasdale

Ultimately, Narvel is the fascist as liberal fantasy. Someone with access to skilled violence, who can unleash it at whim. It’s such a pity that a screenwriter who used to excel at delineating the intricacies of male insecurity and poison now comes out with such a one-dimensional character.


IndieWire by Leila Latif

While the central character’s arc will likely launch a dreaded “discourse,” there is a tenderness to Master Gardener that may prove its biggest surprise.


Slashfilm by Marshall Shaffer

Even if Master Gardener can feel like a bit of a potboiler moral drama, the heat generated is proof that Schrader can still bring the fire. The filmmaker grapples thornily and thoughtfully with difficult issues and destructive people, finding new ways to approach the questions that still haunt him.


The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

Perhaps Schrader will indeed defiantly return to his accustomed theme for his next film – and this brilliant, restless director might well make it work. Sadly, this one doesn’t.


The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor

Master Gardener is another of the old Calvanist’s prayers of absolution—honest and personal to a fault, and a satisfying close to one of the great contemporary trilogies.

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