Master Gardener: A Subversive Tale of Love and Redemption

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



Master Gardener movie review (2022)

Paul Schrader‘s latest film, “Master Gardener,” explores subversion and the power of love to transform lives.

The Rebel’s Playground

Schrader’s upbringing valued rebellion through cinema, setting the stage for his provocative storytelling.

“The Card Counter” star Oscar Isaac interviewed Schrader, who highlighted the subversive elements in his films. Schrader believes that shaking people up is a sign of worthwhile art.

The Man at the Table

Schrader’s “Master Gardener” amplifies his “man at a table” motif, emphasizing introspection and self-discovery.

Lead actor Joel Edgerton‘s character, Narvel Roth, works as a master gardener in a high-end botanical garden. The story unfolds through Narvel’s enigmatic journal entries, providing glimpses into his troubled past

A Garden of Secrets

Mystery and curiosity surround Narvel’s character, as his actions raise questions about his hidden intentions.

Narvel’s journal reveals unsettling references to violence, while his reserved demeanor and long-sleeved shirts hint at a concealed past. The film leaves viewers wondering about his true nature.

The Blooming Bond

Narvel’s life takes an unexpected turn when he forms a connection with Maya, Norma’s troubled grand-niece.

Maya’s resilience and love for gardening captivate Narvel, leading to a tense lunch meeting with Norma. As Maya’s circumstances worsen, Narvel tries to intervene but faces limitations.

Stripped of Safety

Narvel and Maya are expelled from the garden, forcing them to confront the challenges of the outside world.

The performances in “Master Gardener” are remarkable, with Quintessa Swindell bringing restrained anger and vulnerability to Maya’s character. Edgerton’s intense gaze adds an unsettling depth to Narvel. Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal of Norma is a revelation, displaying restrained emotion and formality.

Schrader’s Artistic Vision

Schrader’s direction maintains simplicity while occasionally employing dynamic camera shots and ethereal lighting.

Despite the film’s quiet tone, Schrader delivers emotional impact, culminating in a confrontation scene reminiscent of his earlier work. “Master Gardener” offers a hopeful message of personal transformation, although some may view it as cis-het-male wish fulfillment.


Schrader’s “Master Gardener” is an emotionally charged film that explores love, redemption, and the power of improbable connections. Schrader’s artistic prowess shines, maintaining his legacy of thought-provoking storytelling.

Love in Improbable Forms

The film’s closing song, accompanied by Devonte Hynes’ evocative score, reflects the belief that genuine love can be portrayed through unlikely scenarios.

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Country: USA

Genre: ,

Director: Paul Schrader

Writter: Paul Schrader

Actors: Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Quintessa Swindell

Duration: 1h 51m