“Blow the Man Down”, which won the Best Screenplay award at the Tribeca Film Festival early in last year and then was recently released on Amazon Prime Video, is a little crime comedy drama packed with enough local mood and personality. Right from the quirky opening scene accompanied with a bunch of singing fishermen, the movie amuses and then intrigues us, and I assure you that it will not disappoint you at all as bringing some fresh touches to its familiar genre territory.
At the beginning, we get to know the melancholic personal circumstance of Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), two different sisters who have recently lost their dear mother. Priscilla, who took care of their mother for more than an year after their mother got sick, is willing to continue to run their mother’s local shop in their seaside hometown in Maine, but the shop has been on the verge of bankruptcy, and, to make matters worse, their house will be foreclosed by a bank due to delayed payment. Mary Beth, who has just returned from her college, is certainly not so pleased to learn about her family’s difficult situation, and she wants to leave the hometown as much as possible instead of frequently clashing with her older sister.
And then something unexpected happens at one night. After another argument with her older sister, Mary Beth promptly goes out outside for drinking, and then she happens to hang around with some guy at a local bar. While being quite drunk, they decide to go together to the guy’s residence by his car, and, shortly after arriving at his residence, Mary Beth notices something suspicious in the trunk of his car. Quickly coming to realize that she has gotten herself involved with a potentially dangerous man, she tries to get away from him, but then he chases after her, and she inadvertently kills him in the end.
Quite horrified by what happens, Mary Beth hurriedly goes to Priscilla for help. At first, they consider going to the local police, but they eventually decide to cover up the murder instead. After cleaning up the scene, they put the body in a big ice box, and they take the ice box to the beach and then throw it away into the sea.
Of course, the situation becomes very complicated for Mary Beth and Priscilla on the very next day. The local police begin to search for that man because he is the main suspect of a certain recent case, and Mary Beth and Priscilla naturally become quite nervous when they are approached by two local police officers, who have incidentally known them and their mother well for many years just like most of residents in the town.
As Priscilla and Mary Beth try to deal with their increasingly tricky circumstance, it is slowly revealed that their hometown has a dark side beneath its seemingly peaceful and wholesome surface, and that is mainly represented by Enid Nora Deviln (Margo Martindale), a headstrong middle-aged woman who has run a prostitution organization in the town with the tacit permission from not only the local police but also several influential figures in the town. While everything has been mostly fine for everyone, it looks like Enid crosses the line now, and those influential figures in the town are not going to let Enid get herself off the hook easily.
Meanwhile, Priscilla and Mary Beth come across a bag of money which is certainly not for them, and it does not take much time for Enid to come to have a pretty good idea on what is really going on. At first, she simply approaches closer to Priscilla and Mary Beth as one of their mother’s old friends, but then she eventually makes her position very clear to them once she sees that she should be more active.
Around that narrative point, the mood becomes more serious than before as expected, but directors/writers Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, who made a feature film debut together here in this film, keeps maintaining the lightweight overall tone of their movie with some morbid sense of humor. As those singing fishermen continue to function as a sort of Greek chorus, we get more amused by a series of plot turns along the story, and the movie also distinguishes itself to considerable degree as having itself mainly driven by female characters in a way not so far from Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” (2018).
In addition, the movie is supported well by the engaging performances from several main cast members in the film. Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe are solid as ably complementing each other on the screen, and they are also surrounded by a number of colorful veteran actresses who effortlessly imbue their supporting characters with life and personality to be savored. While Margo Martindale is surely enjoying her every showy moment in the movie, June Squibb, Annette O’Toole, and Marceline Hugot are also a fun to watch as a trio of old ladies who know a lot more than they seem on the surface, and they and Martindale are especially wonderful during one particular night scene later in the movie.
On the whole, “Blow the Man Down” looks modest but succeeds as much as intended, and I still fondly remember its entertaining elements including its distinctive local atmosphere and commendable performances. In short, Cole and Krudy did their job well enough to draw my attention, and it will be interesting to see what will come next from these two good filmmakers.
Everyone in Easter Cove, Maine has dark secrets, and they all unravel in a day or two – maybe for the better, maybe not. While the film captures the look and feel of a worn-out fishing village (I found the cinematography spot-on for the environment), the plot seemed a bit thin and contrived. As desperate as all the main characters were for change in their bleak lives, I had a hard time believing that they would have done the things they did, past and present. As the two sisters, Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe held their own with an ensemble cast of veteran character actors including June Squibb and Margo Martindale. A distracting enough way to pass an hour or so of social distancing.
SC: After all, Maine is Stephen King’s main territory, isn’t it?