The only thing better than Paul Schrader’s Facebook posts is Paul Schrader’s movies, and his latest is only two months away. Magnolia Pictures has released the first trailer for “Master Gardener,” the 24th directorial effort from the “First Reformed” and “American Gigolo” filmmaker, on Tuesday.
A crime thriller written and directed by Schrader, “Master Gardener” stars Joel Edgerton as Narvel Roth, a brilliant horticulturist working at the Gracewoods Gardens estate. Devoted to his work, Roth is forced by his employer, wealthy dowager Mrs. Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver), to take on her troubled great-niece Maya (Quintessa Swindell) as his apprentice. Initially closed off, Roth slowly warms to his young charge, and the two form a close intergenerational friendship. But Roth has numerous secrets and an extremely unsavory past that he hides from Maya, and when the truth comes out, it threatens the peaceful existence he’s worked to maintain.
The film is billed as the last in a trilogy of films from Schrader that began with 2017’s “First Reformed” starring Ethan Hawke and 2021’s “The Card Counter” starring Oscar Isaac. All three movies focus on men who live solitary lives, struggling to do the right thing in a corrupt world while dealing with their own dark pasts and regrets. “First Reformed” and “The Card Counter” both received critical acclaim, and Schrader received an Oscar nomination for his “First Reformed” screenplay.
“Master Gardener” first premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in September and additionally screened at the New York Film Festival. After its premiere, the film spent two months without a distributor, before finally being acquired by Magnolia last November.
The film received positive reviews out of Venice; IndieWire’s review wrote that “while the central character’s arc will likely launch a dreaded ‘discourse,’ there is a tenderness to ‘Master Gardener’ that may prove its biggest surprise.”
“Master Gardener” is produced by Schrader’s manager David Gonzales, Amanda Crittenden, and Scott LaStaiti. Ottocento’s Luisa Law, Flickstar’s Jamieson McClurg and KOJO Studios’ Dale Roberts and Linda Ujuk serve as executive producers on the film.
“Master Gardner” cuts and prunes its way into theaters on May 19. Watch the full trailer below.