Currently streaming on Amazon Prime, Blow the Man Down is a fantastic escape.
A crime caper of characters in the realm of Fargo, an unraveling of small town secrets akin to Blue Velvet and a sea chantey chorus of New England accents could all be used to describe the self-assured black comedy, Blow the Man Down. Co-written and directed by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, the film is an often riotous affair that doesn’t skimp on the suspense or sinister, blending various genre elements to become something that feels crisp in its novelty, nifty in execution and thriving with confidence.
Set in Easter Cove, a remote fishing village on the rocky coast of Maine, the film introduces us to Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly (Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe) as they wash dishes at their mother’s funeral. Surrounded by three of their mother’s closest friends—Susie Gallagher (June Squibb), Gail Maguire (Annette O’Toole), and Doreen Burke (Marceline Hugot)—the group reminisces about the life of a woman who was the matriarch of her family and her town.
What follows is a clever untangling of Easter Cove’s complicated web of crime and politics, initiated by Mary Beth’s collision with a dangerous man (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) that turns deadly. At the center of it all is Enid Nora Devlin (Margo Martindale), the owner of the town’s bed-and-breakfast-turned-brothel, as well as a bag full of cash, a dead girl in the water and a missing knife. There are quite a few twists and turns during Blow the Man Down, and its unpredictable direction is a huge part of its entertaining charm.
The keen eye of cinematographer Todd Banhazi brings the film’s setting and characters together as a singular unit. And speaking of setting, the on-location production design brilliantly captures the New England atmosphere of its small town fishing village. Most admirably, it’s tied together with slick editing by Marc Vives and fantastic music by Jordan Dykstra and Brian McOmber, each scene flowing into the next one perfectly with grand rhythmic procession. There’s barely any dead weight as the film moves from one moment to the next, each filled with just as much surprise and intrigue as the last.
The highlights lie in the performances, though, with two lead actresses who carry the film as it follows their desperate attempts to find the way out of a dangerous situation. And while Saylor and Lowe are sublime in their roles, there’s almost a completely different film happening when it comes to the quartet of character actresses Martindale, Squibb, O’Toole and Hugot. You’ve seen all of them before in one place or another, but when they join forces as the town’s clandestine source of power—which turns into a three-on-one battle with all guns pointed at Martindale—Blow the Man Down becomes two great films for the price of one. Normally, this dual-storyline approach can cause an imbalance, but here is a movie that handles its twin narratives perfectly.
Currently streaming on Amazon Prime, Blow the Man Down is a fantastic escape. Clever, funny, innovative and extremely enjoyable, it’s a much-needed distraction in these isolating times.