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“Gardening is a manipulation of the natural world.”

Joel Edgerton gives a perfectly preened performance as “Narvel Roth”, a punctilious horticulturist in charge of dowager’s “Norma Haverhill” (pristinely aged Sigourney Weaver) elegant estate; he is her pawn, carrying out demands both in and outside the mansion. Director Paul Schrader gifts the complicated Roth a robotic intensity: meticulous biographer of floral whims and diversities, the mathematical wizardry in the creation of French and British gardens plus a wild garden, that in essence is not wild at all; attentive devotion to placement and plantings, dutiful respect for the soil; he is a refined, rarefied, sophisticated teacher until challenged by Norma’s great-niece, “Maya” (divine Quintessa Swindell) who is being schooled to inherit the estate. The similarities between the two are striking: nefarious pasts, addicts, wrapped in freakish desires to always be in control; relinquishment, key to the circuitous scenario.

Masterful, magically melodious rhythms composed by Devonte Hynes (aka Blood Orange, Queen & Slim) lend poetry, romance, vibrancy to oftentimes, a scripted, structured, emotionally subtle text.

“Master Gardner” is a fascinating, prodigious metaphor for the human condition; no matter the level of dehydration, wiltedness, or waterlogged our spirits, souls have sunk to, rejuvenation is possible; like plants,humans may be revived, healed by attentive care, therapeutic measures, music and love. “Gardening is a belief in the future, a belief that things will happen according to plan” a desire of every parent, with the birth of every child.



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