However, behind all the conflict, loneliness, and grief, there is a blatant sweetness that contrasts with the film's more unpleasant story points. Weaver's character gains a new dimension when maya enters the scene, one that, like Narvel's wrath, lies just under her immaculate exterior. Despite Mrs. Haverhill's apparent concern for Maya's safety, there is a condescending tone that emphasises the contrast between the two characters: a wealthy white woman and a young woman of colour whose background would be seen negatively by people who have prejudices. In response to Mrs. Haverhill's haughtiness, Narvel forges a bond with maya that turns into the lifeblood of master Gardener.
But the film's pounding heart isn't enough to make it terrific. There are just as many areas where master Gardener falls short of the brilliance hinted at as there are others where it succeeds (Schrader's directing, Weaver and Edgerton's performances). The writing can't help but allow Swindell's maya slide into a damsel-in-distress stereotype made all the more unpleasant by the fact that her white saviour is a former neo-Nazi. maya is more of a stand-in for ideas than a fully developed character. There is a lingering sense of incompleteness caused by the master Gardener's failure to critically examine this concept.
Another drawback of the movie is that it concludes this trilogy. Schrader received a nomination for Best Original Screenplay for the film's opening, First Reformed. Although The Card Counter didn't receive the same levels of praise, it was a more robust work of fiction that examined man's moral responsibilities in greater detail. master Gardener pales in comparison to those flicks, its basic conceit of a former neo-Nazi turned horticulturist being too obvious to support a movie that is already in default withholding mode.