Sunday, July 12, 2020

Blow the Man Down: Movie Review

Thriller of crime and family - funny, captivating, beguiling.
From the opening scene and deep-voiced men singing melancholic sea shanties, Blow the Man Down summons you into their grit-filled world -- familiar to some, fictional to others – and takes you on a journey of crime and family. The two are intricately connected, of course, especially when directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy present us with such an atmospheric, tightly-woven thriller where every beat matters. The backdrop is Easter Cove, Maine, a small fishing village where nothing is as it seems. 2019

Directed by: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy

Screenplay by: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy

Starring: Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor

This is the very definition of an economical story where we are only given the information that we absolutely need to know. We can infer that rest of the information that we may want to know. Sisters Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly (Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe) are mourning the death of their mother. Townspeople are gracious and offering food, and the mother’s friends are telling them they’re family. The sisters aren’t going to be okay though – Priscilla is the older, mature, stable one who has kept the dire money situation a secret from her screw-up sister; Mary Beth just wants to get the hell out of dodge – she doesn’t even care what she’ll do, she definitely doesn’t care what Priscilla will do.

Photo credit: Jeong Park
Courtesy of Amazon Studios
On Mary Beth’s consequences-be-damned journey out of town, she meets a ne’er-do-well older man and with her life in her hands she makes some bad choices. The only person she can turn to is Priscilla. Here come those consequences that she didn’t give a damn about.

This is the kind of story where the covering up of one crime, uncovers another crime, the investigation into that crime, leads to solving the first crime and we’re caught in a vicious circle of crimes. But we’re not done there, said story is told with a lot comedy, and a lot of heart. No characters are angels, and with flaws as deep as the Gulf of Maine, the audience cares about these people. People who are family even if they do commit crimes.

The lead girls are great and have a sweater game on-par with Ransom from Knives Out. The rest of the movie is littered with recognizable character actors including a devilishly wicked Margo Martindale, a hilariously understated June Squibb, and a forceful Annette O’Toole. Apart from June Squibb’s ending scene, my favourite is the lesser-known Will Britain, Officer Justin Brennan, a newcomer to the town carefully observing all the personalities and eventually realizing perhaps you shouldn’t fall in love with people who commit crimes.

Shot on location in Maine, the cinematography and score really elevate this little film into something special. The sea shanties fit the atmosphere, the wind-swept look of a lonely Priscilla against a gray sky fits the story, and the more darkly comedic elements come when you least expect them. Blow the Man Down is a twisting story, a surprisingly funny tale, supremely well acted and very engaging.