In Master Gardener, a meticulous horticulturist is devoted to tending the grounds of a beautiful Louisiana estate and pandering to his employer, the wealthy dowager. Source: Australian Catholics.
A reassurance for those who feel set up by the title of the film: there are many beguilingly beautiful close-ups of flowers during the opening credits, wonderful vistas of flowers, geometric French gardens, natural British gardens and wild gardens. However, after this initial reassurance, we see fewer and fewer flowers and rather more human thorns.
While this is a drama about an expert gardener, and thought there are many explanations of seeds, growth, flowers, it is more a drama about human nature. It carries the message that whatever the destruction – natural or with malicious human motivation – rejuvenated regrowth is always possible.
Narvel Roth (Edgerton) is the sombre master gardener in the spacious grounds of a Louisiana mansion, presided over by a bitterly rich dowager owner, Norma Haverhill (Weaver).
Norma has had a long family tradition with the gardens, a local reputation, and has her gardener obedient to her beck and call. He is a respectful loner, with a mysterious background that gradually reveals a far different life and ideology.
Into the mix comes Norma’s grandniece, Maya (Swindell). Norma agrees to take her in as an apprentice to Narvel but she has nothing but disdain for Maya’s mother and keeps her distance.
The drama intensifies with Maya and her increasingly bitter grand aunt. Narvel is fascinated with Maya and circumstances lead him to make his own moral decisions.
Apart from the beauty of the flowers, this is a rather sombre drama, becoming ever more sombre as the flowers disappear.
Review by Fr Peter Malone MSC, Jesuit Media
Master Gardener: Starring Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Quintessa Swindell and Esai Morales. Directed by Paul Schrader. 111 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes, sex scenes and coarse language).
Master Gardener (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)