The most existentialist Schrader, honorary Golden Lion in Venice

This content was published on 03 September 2022 – 15:02

03 September 2022 – 15:02

Gonzalo Sanchez

Venice (Italy), Sep 3 (EFE) .- Lonely men have “entered and left” Paul Schrader’s cinema since the time of “Taxi Driver” (1976) and now they return in “Master gardener”, the closing of his trilogy existentialist, premiered today at the Venice Film Festival, which has awarded him his honorary Golden Lion.

“Throughout my life I have been many things, as a screenwriter or director, but also an entrepreneur because otherwise I would not have managed to build these small and rare films. For that alone I deserve this Golden Lion,” the 76-year-old filmmaker quipped. during the presentation of his new tape, out of competition.

Years ago, Schrader read “Nausea” (1938), the anodyne life of a lonely man in which Jean Paul Sartre overturned his most primitive existentialism, and decided to take it into the context of American cinema in the screenplay for the famous “Taxi Driver” for Martin Scorsese.

Since then, this director of cult works such as “American Gigolo” (1980) has been recovering it in his imagination and now he does it again in “Master gardener”, a psychological drama that closes the trilogy of “First reformed” (2017) and “The card Counter” (2021), all presented at the Italian competition.

In this installment, a conscientious gardener (Joel Edgerton) carefully cares for and protects the lavish garden of a rich widow (Sigourney Weaver) while fighting the ghosts of a neo-Nazi past, in nights of eternal sleeplessness in search of the light of dawn. redemption.

A possibility that shines with the arrival at the mansion of the owner’s problematic niece, Maya (Quintessa Swindell).

In the story there is tension, intrigue, a certain sarcasm and some doses of violence because in the vision of the world of man – at least the Western one – the Christian idea of ​​”forgiveness through blood” continues to govern, explained the director.

However, this time the violence is not so explicit because what it is really about is that the protagonist, that silent and disturbing gardener, achieves forgiveness and can leave the world having said “I love you” at least once. “That’s what the film is about,” settled the director.

Although Schrader predicted that this will be the last time that this type of lonely characters star in his movies: “I hope I’m done with him,” he said with a laugh.

“Master gardener” is actually a cool allegory for the potential for change in people who, like the garden in which the play takes place, can flourish with proper care. For where roses grow today, nature’s own chaos reigned before.

“I have understood that gardening actually means believing in the future, I saw it as enlightenment,” Weaber acknowledged for his part.

It is “the oldest metaphor in art”, even the biblical story begins in Eden, because among its plants, trees and bushes -or among its thorns- tormented men and women can hide from eventual accountability.

“At first I thought about setting the movie in a witness protection program, but it seemed like a cliche. Then I decided to take a character like this, put him in a garden and see if he could be pardoned. I don’t know if the story is plausible but above all, art must create hypotheses”, defended the director.

Joel Edgerton, also known for the “Star Wars” saga, stated that his decision to dedicate himself to acting was thanks to roles like Robert De Niro’s in “Taxi Driver” and thanked the legendary screenwriter and director for choosing him for this project .

Schrader joins this year the pantheon of figures with the prestigious honorary Golden Lion to his credit thanks to an exceptional career in which he has not only written and directed more than thirty films, but has also created authentic icons that marked his generation.

Among these stand out, in addition to “Taxi Driver”, other scripts for Scorsese such as “Raging Bull” (1980) or “The last temptation of Christ” (1987), the latter also presented at the Mostra.

An impressive career that elevates veteran Paul Schrader as “a central figure of New Hollywood who revolutionized the imagery, aesthetics and language of American cinema” since the late 1960s. EFE

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