Paul Schrader’s Unlikely Optimism

Vikram Murthi at The Nation:

The premise of Paul Schrader’s Master Gardener is, on paper, a provocation: A reformed white supremacist, living a secluded life in witness protection after flipping on his crew, falls in love with a young biracial woman during a period of shared crisis. The man in question, Narvel Roth (Joel Edgerton), toils away as a horticulturist employed by the estate of a wealthy, childless dowager, Mrs. Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver). His steadfast commitment to her land, and to the diurnal rhythms of gardening, helps him preserve order in his own life after spending much of it dedicated to death. In Narvel’s eyes, it’s an act of penance to give back to the earth with the same hands he previously used to poison it.

When Haverhill insists that Narvel take on her estranged grandniece Maya (Quintessa Swindell) as an apprentice, he cautiously agrees at first, but after warming up to her, he eventually sees it as another opportunity for atonement.

more here.