It's a drama set in modern times somewhere in the American South. It tells the story of a master gardener on an imperious woman-owned estate that opens its gardens once a year to raise money for charity.
Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton) is the master gardener working for Norma Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). He is a highly skilled and highly disciplined gardener. Four other staff are working in the gardens, and a couple are in the main house. Narvel lives alone in a small house in the gardens.
Mrs. Haverhill tells Norval, at their weekly dinner with benefits, to take on as an intern her great-niece, Maya (Quintessa Swindell). Maya is the biracial granddaughter of Mrs. Haverhill's deceased sister. She comes with issues, including drug abuse, which Norval quickly recognizes.
"Master Gardener" follows Narvel peculiar habits, including writing in a daily journal, and underscores his vast knowledge about the history of flower gardens. A series of quick flashbacks combined with a striking scene reveal that Narvel was a white supremacist in his past and that he is currently living under a different name.
Narvel tries to rescue Maya from a past menace which leads to a change in their relationship and results in a confrontation with Mrs. Haverhill. A resolution follows a climactic crisis.
"Master Gardener" was a decent dramatic mystery until the last 15 minutes. Joel Edgerton played well a tightly-controlled protagonist with a past. Sigourney Weaver had a less developed character. Quintessa Swindell was OK in a reasonably conventional role. For me, the plot's resolution left way too many questions unanswered. We needed to know much about the pasts of both Narvel and Mrs. Haverhill. And many threads about Narvel's relationship to the law were left dangling. This film was not Paul Schrader's best work.
Drama / Thriller
Drama / Thriller
Deep within the lush grounds of Gracewood Gardens, horticulturist Narvel Roth tends to more than just plants. With a meticulous hand and unwavering devotion, he's created an idyllic sanctuary for his demanding employer, Mrs. Haverhill. But when troubled great-niece Maya arrives seeking apprenticeship, Narvel's perfectly cultivated life begins to unravel, unearthing secrets from a violent past that threaten to destroy everything he holds dear.—Frank Liesenborgs
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