Recommendation: A cousin to a would-be mix of Fargo, The Lighthouse, and Hot Fuzz, Blow the Man Down brings a whole host of compelling female performances bringing intrigue and a few thrills to a sleepy New England setting. 7.5/10.
IMDB Synopsis: Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly attempt to cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man. To conceal their crime, the sisters must go deep into the criminal underbelly of their hometown, uncovering the town’s darkest secrets.
Set in an idyllic, sleepy fishing village of Easter Cove, ME, Blow The Man Down follows two sisters—Priscilla and Mary Beth Connolly—who in the wake of their mother’s funeral find themselves confused, lost, in debt, and quickly over their heads trying to cover up a crime. But the girls’ crime and coverup isn’t the true focus, rather it’s a catalyst that sets off a chain of events that uncovers long buried secrets about the town, and the interplay and politicking between a brothel madame, gossipy septuagenarians, the cops, and the fishing establishment… with the Connolly sisters caught in the middle. All in all, Blow the Man Down is a perfectly economical and well-acted crime drama that has happily found a home (and hopefully many viewers) on Amazon nearly a year after premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019.
The Connolly sisters, Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), could not be more different. Mary Beth has her head in the clouds, and cannot wait to leave Easter Cove, while Priscilla is pragmatic and the more stoic of the two, determined to keep her mother’s indebted shop open. But when Mary Beth drunkenly kills an outsider—Gorski (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who works on the fishing docks—while escaping from his sexual advances, the sisterly bond is strong as Priscilla helps cover up the crime. Gruesomely, I might add. But the sister’s are never truly in danger of being found out from the local police—one dimensional and bumbling as ever. Unbeknownst to the girls, the threat comes from their late mother’s friend Enid (Margo Martindale), the proprietor of the local brothel—and the boss of the man Mary Beth just killed.
From there, the labyrinthian power structure underneath the sleepy fishing village begins to reveal itself. From Enid’s charismatic hold over the local cops, the old wive’s club longstanding issues with Enid, and the contentious dock overseer, Blow the Man Down introduces interesting depth of human interest and intrigue into a story that normally wouldn’t have much. The film continually focuses back on the Connolly sisters as they navigate this crisis, who act as an audience surrogate in the second half of the film. We, like the plucky duo, are learning the nuance of the world in real time. Of course, the story isn’t completely infallible, with some leaps of faith that the audience has to make, and some fairly aggravating character choices, but nothing so egregious as to take one out of the world of Easter Cove.
Thematically, Blow the Man Down does phase shift a little, starting out as more of a thriller and pivoting to a drama, which seems a little incongruous. But stylistically, the film feels grounded in its New England setting and is anchored with believable performances from its ensemble cast, making Blow the Man Down ultimately worthwhile. Watch it now on Amazon Prime.
MVP: The two sisters are solidly cast and well acted, but pale in comparison to character actor legend Margo Martindale who logs yet another nuanced and commanding performance.
Highlights: Some of the imagery-heavy sequences of cutting fish / cutting bodies are visually compelling. The scoring is quite something to listen to.
Directors: Danielle Krudy and Bridget Savage Cole
Studio: Amazon // Release date: March 20, 2020 (Wide release on Amazon Prime)