Movie Review: BLOW THE MAN DOWN Starring David Coffin, David Pridemore, Adam Wolf Mayerson
As one of my favorite television shows likes to point out: bad gas travels fast in a small town.
And so it is in Easter Cove, the setting for Blow the Man Down. It’s a tiny fishing community in New England that, if you’re old enough to remember, may remind you a bit of the setting of “Murder, She Wrote.” It’s a quaint town where everyone knows each other, the older ladies gossip, and it seems like there’s hardly any crime.
Until now. Following the death of the Connolly matriarch, sisters Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) and Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) are at a crossroads. Their mother’s illness cost them financially (she left them no savings and paying for her medical debt and funeral) and otherwise (Mary Beth points out that she had to come live with them for the past year).
Angry with her sister for not telling her they would likely lose their house, Mary Beth heads to the town bar for the night, where she encounters trouble in the form of a man named Gorski (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Forced to defend herself, she ends up killing him and enlisting her sister’s help to get rid of the body. *
- – Normally this might be considered a spoiler, but it was in the trailer of the film, and since it’s essential to the plot, I’m gonna not count it. Sorry to steal your mojo, Kevin.
From here, the dominos begin to fall, more people are killed, and the final hour or so of the film is less of a whodunit and more of a why-did-they-do-it? And in Bridget Cole and Danielle Krudy’s hands, the result is an excellent ride that’s most certainly a drama, with a bit of black humor thrown in.
It’s not a summer blockbuster that’s going to rake in half a billion, but what it is is a small, quite, intimate film that examines various aspects of living in a small town, with a little murder thrown in. And in a turn from most other films, it’s strongly driven by the women in the town. Besides Mary Beth and Priscilla, most of the interesting/integral people in the film are the other women in town. Margo Martindale is acerbic and brutal as Enid, the owner of a bed and breakfast that doubles as a brothel. June Squibb, Annette O’Toole, and Marceline Hugot all have their turns as the town gossips, offering lunch for people in exchange for information.
Perhaps the biggest revelation, for me, was Gayle Rankin, who portrays Alexis, one of the women in Enid’s stable. What begins as a small role as a person in the background turns into an excellent portrayal of a young woman with a storm brooding inside her head. As the film goes on, she develops a depth I didn’t quite anticipate, and Rankin does a fantastic job.
Set against a backdrop of New England life so rich you can practically smell the ocean waves wafting through the screen, it’s hard not to get pulled into the internal and external strife that the sisters go through. Interspersed through the film are various sea shanties sung by David Coffin, a professional singer. The songs serve as effective segues and set the tone, including the eponymous “Blow the Man Down.”
Given recent events and the fact that we are likely to be more homebound in the near future, Blow the Man Down might be a perfect option to spend an evening, whether in isolation or with loved ones at least six feet away. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a Coen brothers film as I watched it, but to say it’s just a female Coen film would be doing it injustice. Cole and Krudy may have been inspired by the Coens, but they do well enough to differentiate it, and the payoff is worth the watch.
Blow the Man Down gets a B+