I really wanted to love Master Gardener, Paul Schrader’s third film of the ‘man in a room trilogy’, primarily because of my polar opposite experiences of the first two. I ADORED First Reformed and was fully on board with his messaging of environmental concerns, religious hypocrisy and oppression and of course the phenomenal performances of Ethan Hawke (SHOULD HAVE RECEIVED AN OSCAR), Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer.
That’s why when I got to Card Counter, I was shocked that I loathed this film. Flat, lifeless, stupid. So, Master Gardener had promise especially since I love Sigourney Weaver and have appreciated Joel Edgerton. The story was compelling and hit home with a recent ridiculous whispering about a local man who is very sweet, soft spoken and kind, but who was scoped out in that *petty self-righteous millennial hobby of deep dive internet research and was discovered to have been involved in less kind clubs over a decade ago. Lions and tigers and bears…I digress…
Here Joel Edgerton plays ‘that dude’, a quiet gardener who does what he’s told by his ’employer’ Sigourney Weaver. Much like Josh Larsen of Filmspotting, I didn’t buy any of the relationships. The dialogue is so stilted (much like The Card Counter) that it stifles any emotion or character chemistry. Which is a shame because the core idea (PEOPLE CAN EVOLVE TO MORE LOVING HUMANS) is so important to pound into *haters’ heads.
I still admire Schrader’s commitment to his own style and think if he watched Bones and All, he’d see you can achieve chemistry and oppression simultaneously. I also appreciated the ridiculousness of some of the dialogue as I took it as a hint that Schrader’s just trying to create symbols in these talking 2D figures who talk more like puppets than humans.