Murder, fish knives, dark family secrets, sea shanties and female empowerment are all the range in small town noir in Blow The Man Down.
The film marks Bridget Cole and Danielle Krudy‘s feature film directorial debut (the pair worked in short films and Television).I watched this at the Glasgow Film Festival earlier this year, describing it as “There’s Been A Murder in Manchester By The Sea“. A darkly humorous tale ode to the Coen Brothers but tries too hard when it didn’t need too.
For this one we find ourselves on the rocky coast of Maine New England and to the salty fishing village of Eastern Cove. We arrive in the middle of a wake, grieving the loss of their mother the Connolly Sisters Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) and Priscilla(Sophie Lowe). Left with an uncertain future, with crippling debt and a fishmonger store that’s not paying the bills.
The death of her mother Mary Beth sees this as an opportunity to leave her home for pastures news. Priscilla is happy to stay despite the bleak prospects and the sisters clash. Mary Beth storms off, however an encounter with a dangerous man , leaves him dead.
Was it self defence? The situation brings the sisters together and closer as they try conceal what has happened. The pair must go deeper into Easter Cove’s underbelly, uncovering the town’s matriarch’s darkest secrets.
The title of the film becomes more evident right away as the town’s ‘fishermen’ singing sea shanty opening song. The music itself does nicely help the narrative link together.
The small town the film is set in , is one of those towns everyone knows each other . Amazingly so much crime going on you understand why collectively it’s hush hush. Jessica Fletcher or Miss Marple would have a field day in this town.
It’s great to see women tackle a film genre that is usually dominated by male filmmakers. Not just behind the camera, but also in front of it too, Cole and Krudy do deliver with a degree of success.
The directors are clearly inspired by the early films of Joel and Ethan Coen with Blood Simple, Fargo standouts. There’s nothing wrong with that, however sometimes you try too hard , spoil what good you’ve made. The directors influence potentially over powers the film.
The stars of the film is it’s cast. In Easter Cove the women rule the roost and as the film progresses you understand why. The older generation carries the sins of the past weighing them down. The Cove’s Busybody’s (played by Annette Toole, June Squibb, Marceline Hogut) stick their nose into everything and you just want to tell them to mind their own business. The Connolly Sisters do quickly learn they are the voice of ‘experience’ .
Apart from the Town’s Rookie cop (Will Brittain) the only ‘sensible’ man in the Cove, all the men can be found in the bar or at Oceanview Hotel. Or should we say the brothel ran by Enid (Margo Martindale). She maybe the sleazy ‘madam’ of the hotel, she’s a ferocious, funny and powerful who can twist a lot of arms. A vessel of knowledge to whats truly going on in the Cove, Martindale does steal the show as Enid.
Refreshingly Blow The Man Down is an off-beat, noirish thriller that is full of atmosphere and impulsively dark. As James Brown once sung, ‘It’s A Man’s World‘, In Cole and Krudy’s film it’s essentially a women’s one. A solid directorial feature debut backed by some great performances all around, a promising start in feature film.
Drama, Mystery | USA, 2019 | 15 | Amazon Prime | Dir.Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy | Annette Toole, June Squibb, Marceline Hogut, Margo Martindale, Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor