The Movie Waffler New Release Review - THE G | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - THE G

A retiree with a shady past seeks revenge against a corrupt legal guardian.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Karl R. Hearne

Starring: Dale Dickey, Romane Denis, Roc Lafortune, Bruce Ramsay, Jonathan Koensgen

Writer/director Karl R. Hearne's The G draws inspiration from an all too prevalent real life American phenomenon in which opportunists seek out vulnerable elderly people and with the aid of corrupt doctors, have them declared unfit to live alone. The elderly victim is placed in a care facility while the opportunist is declared their legal guardian and given control of their assets. If you've seen the Rosamund Pike vehicle I Care a Lot, you'll have seen how this plays out from the POV of the villain. With The G, Hearne centres a victim, though given her resilience, "victim" feels like the wrong word to describe Ann Hunter.

Played by a ferocious Dale Dickey, Ann is a crotchety 72-year-old alcoholic with little time for anyone except her bedridden husband Chip (Greg Ellwand) and her college-aged granddaughter Emma (Romane Denis). Referring to her grandmother as "The G", Emma views Ann as a role model and tries her best to mimic her take-no-shit-from-no-one attitude.

After a visit to a doctor who insists her alcoholism isn't helping her husband's condition, Ann is visited that evening by local politician Rivera (Bruce Ramsay) and his henchman Ralph (Jonathan Koensgen). Having been appointed Anna and Chip's legal guardian, Rivera inters the couple in a local elder-care facility and takes control of their assets. Aware that Ann received a considerable inheritance from her father, a wealthy Texan businessman, Rivera resorts to violence in order to convince Ann to tell him where she has hidden the money, resulting in the death of Chip, which is covered up by a paid-off doctor.

What Rivera doesn't know is the nature of Ann's family business. Having once fled a West Texan criminal empire, Ann calls in help from her past life in the form of a cold-blooded mob enforcer (Christian Jadah) and begins plotting revenge against Rivera. Things become complicated when Emma embarks on her own crusade to be reunited with her grandmother, encountering a wolf along the way in the form of Matt (Joey Scarpellino), a handsome young man who unbeknownst to Emma, is one of Rivera's goons.

A veteran character actress who only really began to get her critical due with her role in 2010's Winter's Bone, Dickey recently got the chance to prove herself a compelling lead with her touching performance in the 2022 drama A Love Song. That film saw her cast against type as a romantic lead. While the role of Ann here leans fully into her tough old broad persona, it does so with nuance and depth. Ann is far from a one-note avenger. Her tough shell may never crack, but Dickey portrays a woman who is internally peeling away layers of a life that might be filled with regret but which she lived on her own terms. When she finally wields a pistol we fully believe she's killed before but the film avoids lazily turning her into a gender-swapped Charles Bronson.

There are reminders that, for all her bluster, Ann is a woman who appreciates tenderness in the rare moments it's offered. She finds that comfort in the form of Joseph (Roc Lafortune), a long-term inmate at the elder care facility whose gentle ways stand in stark contrast to the foul-mouthed Ann. Joseph refers to Ann as a "firecracker," confessing how he was always attracted to firecrackers but they never paid any attention to him. Joseph's tenderness does indeed attract Ann however, leading to a rare sex scene in which the septuagenarian participants are filmed with the sort of admiration usually reserved for athletic twentysomethings. The relationship between Ann and Joseph is a fascinating gender reversal of the classic western trope of the grizzled cowboy finding tenderness in the perfumed bosom of a lady whose life is a million miles away from his cycle of violence. Had The G been filmed 30 years ago it would probably be set in the sweaty American SouthWest rather than Canada posing as an ambiguous frozen northern state, and the western similarities would be all too clear.

Ann's calm and calculated methods of getting her revenge are contrasted with Emma, who is a variation of another western trope, that of the naive youngster ("the kid") who idolises the veteran gunfighter and wishes to follow in their path until they find themselves forced to point a gun at a human target. Denis is excellent as a young woman trying her best to fall into an archetype she's just not built for, and the narrative begins to gradually shift from one of single-minded revenge on the part of Ann, for whom there's no turning back from a life of violence, to one of preserving the innocence of the young Emma.

As great as The G is when it comes to cleverly playing with western tropes and finely sketching the sort of characters usually painted with much broader strokes, it suffers from some messy storytelling. It's a particular problem in the final act, which sees a series of twists and turns conveyed in a confusing manner that leaves us scratching our heads with regard to some unanswered questions. The final actions of one specific figure are especially baffling and completely out of character with how they've been portrayed for the duration of the preceding movie. With some tighter and more comprehensible plotting The G might rank higher in the annals of neo-noir, so it's a shame that as the end credits roll we're left mentally tying up loose ends rather than reflecting on the richness of its character building.

The G is in UK/ROI cinemas from June 21st.