‘The G’ Movie Review: A Smart and Unusual Crime Thriller (Glasgow Film Festival)

The G, from writer-director Karl R. Hearne, is an unusual crime thriller in that its central character is a woman in her sixties and the insults of aging are central to the crimes at its core. But the unusual intelligence of The G is that it knows that physical weakness means little if you have an equalizer, and it’s always a mistake for someone young and strong to underestimate what cunning and a fighting spirit is capable of. 

The story of The G

Ann (the incredible Dale Dickey) and her older husband Chip (Greg Ellwand) are happy together in their frozen city, but Chip is getting weaker, and Ann’s not much of a nurse. She’s the kind of woman who would rather drink her vodka from a yogurt pot than do the dishes. And it’s thanks to Chip’s frailty that the couple finds themselves in the guardianship system – the nasty and entirely legal American scam where a random stranger can, with the collusion of a doctor, claim an elderly person is too frail to know their own interests and get a judge to grant them power of attorney. 

Since Ann and Chip own their little house, they have assets Rivera (Bruce Ramsay) wants, and he suspects there’s more. He kidnaps them in the middle of the night from their house into a prison-like nursing home. Ann quickly figures out what’s going on with the nervous assistance of another resident named Joseph (Roc Lafortune), but she knows a trap when she’s in one. And she has resources Rivera knows nothing about. 

But so does Emma (an excellent Romane Denis), who calls Ann her grandmother – the G is for grandma – although strictly speaking, Chip’s son Charles (Daniel Brochu) is only her stepfather. At one point, Ann and Charles have such a nasty fight that Charles calls off the lawyers he’d hired to help, though Emma, who’s in her early twenties, refuses to leave Ann on her own.

Her snooping leads her to Matt (Joey Scarpellino), an amiable landscaper – although the movie’s bleak opening sequence means we know what Emma doesn’t: Matt’s not as amiable as he seems. Rivera’s muscle is Ralph (Jonathan Koensgen), an unpleasant thug perfectly willing to beat up an old man on an oxygen tank. But Ann has resources too, most notably the unnamed man who calls himself a soldier (Christian Jadah), whose family and Ann’s have generations-deep connections and who is calmly willing to get his hands very dirty indeed. 

Karl R. Hearne directs The G with a firm confidence

So the race is on – will Ann be able to extricate herself from this mess without Emma getting hurt? Will Rivera find Ann’s hidden resources or will he be able to steal them like her stole her home? Is justice possible when the legal system is fully part of this kind of amorality? How many people are going to die? Writer-director Karl R. Hearne dedicated the film to his own grandmother Ann, so it’s clear some personal scores are being settled. He directs with a firm confidence that adds to the relentlessly escalating tone. All his characters know exactly who they are, even if they don’t like it very much. Vlad Horodinca’s crisp cinematography, Arthur Tarnowski’s editing, and Philippe Brault’s music all combine to layer on the dread as the depth of Ann’s trap becomes fully clear. 

But the reason why Ann and Emma love each other so much also slowly becomes fully clear: they are more alike than they had realized. Emma’s had a much easier life though it’s not been all smooth sailing. But she has no childhood stories like the horrible and violent one Ann casually tells Joseph as she moves around his apartment, silently noting he’s been able to keep his own possessions under Rivera’s watch. At the same time, Joseph silently realizes Ann has the qualities which could make her Rivera’s match. In 2022, Ms. Dickey charmed everyone in her gentle romantic drama A Love Song, but there’s none of that gentleness on display here in her ferocious performance. At one point the soldier tells Ann she was the angriest person his father had ever met, and it’s wholly believable.

The contrast between Ann, who doesn’t think she’s a good person and has had so many awful experiences she is no longer afraid of anything, and Joseph, who’s so frightened of his own shadow that he’s capable of causing incredible harm with his fear as the excuse, is the smartest thing about this very smart film. Ann had tried, as an act of love, to keep her dark qualities from Emma, but their situation is so serious that only dark qualities will save them. And the way in which The G builds to its ending is satisfying indeed, even if it’s darker than a shallow grave. This is only Mr. Hearne’s second feature, but based on this, he’s ready for many more.

The G recently played at The Glasgow Film Festival.

What do you think of this unusual crime thriller? Are you interested in The G? Let us know by connecting with us on X @MoviesWeTexted.

You might also like…

Thelma’ Movie Review: A Funny and Sincere Action-Adventure at Sundance

Driving Madeleine by Christian Carion and Starring Line Renaud and Dany Boon. Movie Review.

‘Driving Madeleine Movie Review: Moving Reflections on Life via Paris