When his latest film Master Gardener was preparing to premiere at Venice Film Festival last September, legendary writer/director Paul Schrader predicted that it could kick off a bit of a storm.

"This one is going to p**s people off,” he told IndieWire at the time, citing the "outrageous" plot elements of the film which sees a reformed white nationalist begin a relationship with a younger mixed-race woman.

However, ahead of the film's UK release, Schrader has revealed that the reaction has in fact been a lot less strong than he thought might have been the case.

"It's been a lot less than I anticipated," the Taxi Driver and Raging Bull scribe told RadioTimes.com during an exclusive interview.

"I really thought that I might get considerable blowback, and I have had some – but not as much as I anticipated. And maybe that has simply to do with the tone of the piece."

The film sees Joel Edgerton star as horticulturalist Narvel Roth, who is working for Sigourney Weaver's wealthy dowager Norma Haverhill while hiding details of his deeply troublesome past.

That past begins to resurface when he's tasked with taking on Norma's troubled great-niece Maya (Quintessa Swindell) as an apprentice, especially as the pair gradually begin to fall for each other.

The film is a standalone drama but has been described as part of a thematic trilogy with Schrader's last two works, 2021's The Card Counter and the Oscar-nominated First Reformed from 2017.

And although Schrader said he did not initially envisage the three films as a trilogy, he's now accepted that this is an appropriate way to view them.

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"It's a trilogy in the same way that the Bergman films are described as a trilogy, even though they weren't made as a trilogy," he explained.

"When I started to work out the idea for Master Gardener and I was talking to someone, they said to me, 'Oh, that's the third of a trilogy.' And I said, 'No, no, no that's not the case.'

"But then I thought about it some more and realised it probably was, and that I hadn't been thinking about it that way.

"So, you know, the things that all three films have in common is the occupational metaphor, the sins of the past, a young person comes into their lives, and a magical sequence about three-quarters of the way through."

Master Gardener is playing in UK cinemas from Friday 26th May 2023. Visit our Film hub for the latest news and features. If you're looking for something to watch, check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide.

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