Out of competition: Master Gardener and Pearl


  • Master Gardener
  • Pearl


USA, 2022  Director Paul Schrader With: Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Quintessa Swindell Running Time: 111’ Distribuzione: Movies Inspired

What Paul Schrader did wrong to consistently chronicle guilt and atonement in its most disparate forms throughout his career as a screenwriter and director? He does it again in the Master Gardener, the story of Narvel Roth, a master in his field, the author of a garden masterpiece owned by a wealthy, elderly Lousiana widow with whom he has woven a special relationship. The balance governing the garden and the house is broken when the lady entrusts her troubled granddaughter to Narvel’s care. The girl learns the job while memories of a past life stir in the gardener.

After coming into competition in 2017 with First Reformed and 2021 with The Card Counter, Schrader is invited out of competition this year, as usual for those receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Very well deserved for the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and director of such magnificent films as Hardcore and Light Sleeper. Narvel Roth is one of the many different incarnations of Travis Bickle, who was an ambulance driver, a drug dealer philosopher, a confused priest. Narvel is played by actor and director Joel Edgerton, who duets with a newfound Sigourney Weaver and young Quintessa Swindell, she will soon see her in DC Comics blockbuster Black Adam.

About his new movie, Paul Schrader said, “I’ve been lucky because I’ve lived in a bubble of creative freedom, wealth, free time, peace and good health. My latest film focuses on Narvel Roth, a lonely man sitting in a room with a mask on his face-which is his job as a horticulturist-waiting for something to happen. And then something happens.” 

Perfect synthesis from an artist who dealt with writing and words giving cinema great highlights. It is one of cinema’s amusing crossroads that this year in Venice there’s the screening of the restored edition of Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract. Maybe it is sign we need to devote ourselves to living things. In a world full of violence, a flower can give much hope.

Mattia Pasquini


USA, 2022 Director Ti West With: Mia Goth Running time: 102′

It’s the horror revelation of 2022. X, directed by genre expert Ti West, is a homage to the ultra-independent cinema of the ’70s that was made with a few bucks, a lot of passion and good ideas. Pearl is the elderly psychopathic sex addict who slaughters the crew that rented her barn to shoot porn. Now we find her again, young and beautiful, in this prequel shot back to back the first film and starring once again Mia Goth, who played the old and ruthless Pearl under layers of make-up. “When I told Mia what I planned to do, I asked her if she wanted to ship for this adventure. She immediately agreed, and I found my Pearl,” Ti West told Ciak during a zoom call last June. Goth is a muse of art-house cinema. She worked with Luca Guadagnino in Suspiria and Claire Denis in High Life. We now find her Pearl in the ’20s, young, beautiful and with two passions: cinema and meat. The latter in every sense of the word. Again, West celebrates the art of filmmaking at its origins, a celebration intertwined with the protagonist’s murderous rage. It is pure genre and fits perfectly with Venice 79, which has different shades of horror with Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All, and in many ways Athena, deeply influenced by John Carpenter and modern Spanish horror. Pearl is produced by A24, the new independent major company brought here in competition Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and, as co-producer, White Noise. A24 is making a new auteur imprint on the Hollywood scene.

Alessandro De Simone

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