“Blow the Man Down” Movie Review


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     In much the same way the Coen brother’s “Fargo” and Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout “Winter’s Bone” did, directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy have crafted their film, “Blow the Man Down”, utilizing a unique and little known setting to tell a story that would otherwise feel familiar if it were to take place in a well known city.  The hook here, in other words, isn’t necessarily the plot, but rather the locale and the people who populate it.  People who in their everyday nature simply feel different than the norm. They are indeed interesting.  And those differences also tend to bring forth unpredictable solutions as well.  Looking back again at “Fargo” as a good example, who would’ve thought disposing of a body could lead to the use of a wood chipper?

     Taking place in a cold and snowy Maine fishing town called Easter Cove, “Blow the Man Down” is set up as a standard murder and subsequent cover up tale and never really delves in a different direction even when a third act arrives that isn’t nearly as clever as it should have been.  Working from a script they wrote as well, Cole and Krudy open the film with a montage of fisherman singing a tune derived from the title, as we are immersed in the daily process of catching and cleaning fish in the area.  We are meant to believe this what the characters we will soon meet depend on in their daily lives in one way or another, as these scenes also set the stage for much of what’s to come given the tools of the trade common in these parts.

     Early on, we meet Mary Beth (“Homeland” alum Morgan Saylor) and Priscilla Connolly (Sophie Lowe), two adult aged sisters who have just lost their mother and now find themselves in financial disarray, with the house they live in behind on the mortgage and the family fish store business failing.  Though both find themselves in the same predicament, they couldn’t be anymore different in the way they think.  And while Priscilla remains the more level headed and responsible half of the siblings (think Jo March in “Little Women”), Mary Beth exhibits overly impulsive behavior, longing to leave the small town she has spent her entire childhood in and experience life in a more exciting way.  Of course the fact they are now broke doesn’t help with those plans, as she chooses to storm off from her mother’s funeral reception and head to the local watering hole to drown in her self centered sorrows.

     This, of course, leads to her making an acquaintance with one of the town’s many less than savory types who are looking to blow off steam after another hard days work.  And when this guy, Gorski (“Girls” alum Ebon Moss-Bachrach), asks her to his place, the now inebriated would be couple makes their way to a shack located at one of the local docks.  But before anything goes further, Mary Beth finds something in his vehicle that immediately changes her mind, but Gorski isn’t having it.  What ensues then requires a desperate cover up where Mary Beth utilizes Priscilla’s assitance, as they both soon discover much of what they knew growing up is now shrouded in an abundance of organized criminal activity that spans through many of the people they once looked up to.

     As the sisters grapple with their now desperate situation, they find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that sees a trio of older women (Gail (Annette O’Toole), Doreen (“The Leftovers” alum Marceline Hugot), and Susie (“Nebraska" Oscar nominee June Squibb)) pitted against another of the town’s elders, Enid (Margo Martindale), as the former attempts to cleanse the town of past practices still in play today that have been now deemed unacceptable.  Namely the fact Enid still runs an illegal prostitution ring which has made money off of needy fisherman for decades.  Eventually, Priscilla and Mary Beth are thrust in the middle, as they attempt to cover up their misdeed while also safeguarding a stash of cash that has found its way into their possession.

     Practically every scene begins with a series of beautifully composed shots of the surrounding areas, ensuring the audience has a firm grasp on the layout of the town and exactly where the power structure is located in relation to other important locations to the plot.  The story includes just one male protagonist character, a young local cop named Justin (Will Brittain), who suspects many of these characters are involved in the murder of a young girl who washes up to shore early in the film, but is constantly held at bay by his partner, Coletti (Skip Sudduth) whose long career here has likely meant he was in on much of the malfeasance being uncovered.

     “Blow the Man Down” is primarily a story of an old guard within a long time fishing town who wants to ensure their own exploits are not disturbed by those up and coming.  As you can imagine, Priscilla and Mary Beth, because of the situation they have created, are at the behest of many of these older women.  The question for them is who is on their side, and who is looking to use them as a scapegoat for their own crimes.  As I eluded to earlier, the final scenes in the film will not necessarily surprise you.  There aren’t the kind of juicy revelations seen in many of the classic films of this genre, but the overall product is quite entertaining and even compelling at times, particularly given the outstanding performances by the cast.  GRADE: B