The G

The G (2023)

The G to have its UK première 29th February at the Glasgow Film Festival 2024

Things are headed to a bad place. We know this, because writer/director Karl R. Hearne’s The G opens in the middle of nowhere with someone being buried alive – already entirely effaced, but for the mouth, by a covering of dirt – while the only sting experienced by the pair of thugs executing this act comes from a bug rather than from any conscience. 

Yet this is not – or at least not yet – the bad place to which 72-year-old Ann Hunter (Dale Dickey, superb as ever) is headed. Rather she is about to be abducted along with her ailing, bed-bound husband Chip (Greg Ellwand), and taken against her will to a prison-like facility for the elderly while her court-appointed sponsor, the corrupt businessman Rivera (Bruce Ramsay), steals her assets and sells her home. Searching for the remaining savings that he believes she has hidden elsewhere, Rivera pushes Ann too hard – and will quickly realise that he has picked the wrong woman to antagonise.

This is not Ann’s first time being kidnapped, or indeed the first time that she has had to deal with the criminal fraternity. Indeed, she was born to it. And so, even as Ann’s loving young granddaughter Emma (Romane Duris) tries to break ‘The G’ (as she calls her grandma) out, turning to the facility’s dishy landscape gardener Matt (Joey Scarpellino) for help, Ann herself calls in a ‘soldier’ (Christian Jadah) connected to her Texan mob past to carry out some missions for her, while herself getting to know the ins and outs of the care facility and forming a bond with lonely long-term inmate Jospeh (Roc Lafortune). 

Hard-drinking, chain-smoking, tough as nails, cruel even, and once described, by a career criminal no less, as “the angriest person he ever met”, Ann is not someone that you want to cross – and although Emma may imagine herself as understudy and apprentice to her grandmother’s take-no-shit attitude, really she is in over her head, while no one can hold a candle to this ‘ruthless’ granny when her blood is up. 

Which is what makes The G so refreshing, as it upturns our expectations of the revenge picture by placing a septuagenarian woman at its centre, while simultaneously undermining the Hollywood notion that the elderly are all homely, hokey sweetness and light. “I’m not a nice person,” Ann will tell Joseph, in what is part confession, part warning, “but I do have other other qualities.” The viewer is likely to agree with both these sentiments, while also agreeing with Joseph that Ann is “amazing” – the sort of complex, unlikeable, tragic character rarely seen on-screen in their seventies, let alone after the Seventies. Here revenge is a dish best served old. 

There are of course antecedents to The G’s story of a grandmother guiding her granddaughter through a world of unreliable, predatory men, from Paul Weitz’s abortion-seeking Grandma (2015) all the way back to the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Hearne’s film too, for all its geriatric sex and violence, is a fairytale of sorts – for the town in which it is set, anonymous and grey, is Anywhere, USA – a mythic space that allegorises the dystopian corruption of American capitalism, even if Rivera’s scheme to fleece the elderly is all too real (and was also recetly dramatised, from the scammer’s point of view, in J. Blakeson’s I Care A Lot, 2020).

“My mother used to say if you let your anger out, you live longer,” Ann will say at one point, adding, “She lived to be 102.” It is a matrilineal maxim that Ann is now imparting to her own granddaughter, as Emma learns hard lessons about survival in a world whose judges, politicians, guardians, police and business leaders are mostly male, only looking out for their own (economic and erotic) interests, and all too happy to exploit the opposite sex. This, it seems, is no country for old women – even if Ann, in wreaking her revenge, also discovers what she truly values in an otherwise bad place.

strap: In Karl R. Hearne’s ‘breakout’ film, a ruthless retiree shows the men who have objectified her that revenge is a dish best served old

© Anton Bitel