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The G Film Review: Dale Dickey is Terrific

Dale Dickey in the film The G

Karl R. Hearne’s revenge thriller The G, anchored by a terrific central performance from Dale Dickey, gives ‘gangster granny’ a whole new meaning.

Whilst it isn’t particularly noteworthy for men to still be action heroes well into their 60s and 70s – case in point, the cast of The Expendables franchise –, the same can’t really be said for women. But Karl R. Hearne’s The G is bucking the trend, with Dale Dickey’s brilliantly ruthless performance elevating what might otherwise have been a middling revenge thriller.

Ann (Dickley) is not your average grandma. She’s an acerbic, vodka-swilling chain-smoker who’s doing a pretty poor job of caring for her ailing husband. One night, she is forcibly moved to a ‘care’ facility by court-appointed guardian, and complete stranger, Rivera (Bruce Ramsay). He then proceeds to sell her house, liquidate her assets for his own financial gain, and threaten her into handing over the savings he believes she has hidden away.

Her granddaughter Emma (Romane Denis), with whom she has a uniquely affectionate relationship, attempts to help, but soon finds herself out of her depth in the murky world of shady schemes, intimidation and thugs-for-hire. Ann tells her not to worry though, as her surprisingly violent past will come in handy as she seeks her own revenge.

Hearne’s film is slick, controlled and engaging, but it’s Dickey’s performance that gives it its spark. She is terrific, with a glare that could quell Stallone at his most macho and a raspy voice that drips threat with every syllable. Dickey is so precise with her speech patterns, mannerisms and stoic yet expressive face, that all she needs to do is take a drag of her cigarette and proclaim she is “not a nice person” for the need of more detailed backstory to be rendered obsolete.

A man looks at Dale Dickey from across a table in the film The G
The G (3 Buck Productions / Glasgow Film Festival)

It’s a performance that is incredibly fierce, but also tender when it needs to be. Women aren’t often cast in these roles, lest they be too emotional, but Hearne – who also wrote the screenplay – gives Ann depth, agency and vulnerability. Her stoicism doesn’t feel contrived or forced. Dickey plays each moment – be it a blank stare, a barbed quip, or tears of grief – with enough edge to be believable, and enough heart to soften the sharp corners.

Outside of Dickey’s burning intensity though, The G is pretty bleak. The grey, nameless city with its roads full of dirty snow and the prison-like facility with its harsh lighting and sterile stone walls give the impression that there’s little joy to be found around here. Good performances lift a somewhat mediocre narrative throughline, but the ‘gangster granny’ schtick is the draw. Luckily, it’s done well. The film avoids being too dour, sustaining its tension – even if some of the shocks are as subtle as a shot to the head – and working pretty decently as a revenge thriller.

Let’s let more women – and, in particular, older women – show the men who’s boss more often, eh?

The G will have its UK premiere at the 2024 Glasgow Film Festival on February 29-March 2, 2024. Read our Glasgow Film Festival reviews and our list of films to watch at the 2024 Glasgow Film Festival!

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