Blow The Man Down starts in unpredictable fashion, as a group of fisherman sing the iconic seafaring tune in unison. Directing/writing team Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Crudy shoot their Maine set tale knowing that time is of the essence. Grabbing viewers right from the jump is a great thing, but what happens after the melody dies?
A brilliant start to Blow The Man Down also signals that a substantial part of the narrative will be stylized, and for viewers looking for eye catching moments, this film doesn’t disappoint. Running at a taut 90 minutes, this film noir drenched tale is also blessed with a great script and ensemble, so there is a ton of substance behind all the visuals.
Pris (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) are understandably reeling over her mother’s passing, and unfortunately the sisters are left with a pile of debts. Pris is trying to keep their fish shop and home from going under, while Mary Beth is simply looking to get out.
During one drunken and regrettable evening, Mary Beth commits a crime that needs a bit of cleaning up, and the level headed Pris basically saves the day. Disposing of a dead body is tricky business, but living in a town adjacent to the deep water should help their cause.
If you’ve watched enough movies, you’ll know that crime doesn’t pay, and ultimately the siblings may have to face a reckoning. Gail (Annette O’Toole), Susie (June Squibb) and Doreen (Marceline Hugot) are the quiet leaders in the small town of Easter Cove. Their nurturing spirit, even if it comes from a good place, hides a deeper and more manipulative power that should be feared. Enid (Margo Martindale) is the town’s madame, and her house of prostiution (which looks from the outside as a charming little bed and breakfast joint) is on its last legs. Facing the hovering trio of women (each of whom are her former friends), is taking a toll on Enid, and her business has taken a turn for the worse.
I played the film’s trailer for my film buff mother, and she immediately remarked that it reminded her of Fargo. Blow the Man Down actually had me thinking about Blood Simple, another Coen Bros. classic; but in fairness this film is far from derivative. Aside from a couple of cops (Will Brittain does solid work as a smart and well meaning officer), this thriller is a female centric narrative. As a noir enthusiast, I’ve witnessed my share of femme fatales and flawed male protagonists succumbing to the dead of night. It’s refreshing to watch a film that refuses to employ these tropes and instead bring something new to the mix.
Another brilliant stroke lies in the Savage Cole and Krudy’s decision to fully flesh out the denizens who populate the sisters’ universe. Lowe and Saylor are both fantastic as the understandably nervous leads, but the story is not a blow by blow account of their journey. Alexis (Gayle Rankin), a prostitute whose frustation over Enid originates from a close friend’s mysterious death, is also given a healthy amount of screen time. Fans of Margo Martindale will also be treated to another memorable (and ultimately intimdating) character, and although it will never happen, I’d love to see the further adventures of Gail, Susie and Doreen. It’s a truly immersive yarn that doesn’t skip a beat.
The ending of Blow the Man Down may have been a bit too subtle for my tastes, since the highly charged energy of the tale may have demanded for something more explosive. That is a minor complaint, and ultimately the climax yielded an unforgettable moment (I’m actually rethinking my “explosive” comment as I write!). Blow The Man Down, for lack of a better word, blew me away, and don’t be surprised if Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy have more intoxicating stories to offer down the road.
Blow The Man Down is now streaming on Prime Video.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Check out the latest CinemAddicts episode of “Flick City,” where I spotlight the indie films Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Lost Transmissions. Plus, I offer up several Rhonda Fleming films you don’t want to miss (speaking of female centric, Slightly Scarlet, streaming on Prime Video as well, is also worth a watch!!)