BLOW THE MAN DOWN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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Set in the isolated fishing town of Easter Cove, Maine, during a frosty winter, Blow the Man Down is a neo-noir in the vein of the Coen brothers classic Fargo. Initially, it may seem like a bucolic burg populated with brawny men and salt of the earth females who start downing whiskey early and often each day. But just as there was something rotten in Minnesota, there is a seamy underbelly to the goings-on, one that involves in the battle of the sexes, including the fact that the local bed and breakfast is actually a not-too-well-disguised long-running brothel.

First-time writer-directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy kick off their whale of a tale with salty sea-faring men bellowing the sea shanty that provides their title. From there, we head to a funeral where the Connolly sisters, party girl Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) and more level-headed Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) mourn their mother and fret over their financial situation while continuing to run the family’s local fish store. But before the day is over, the siblings get entangled with a dangerous man and matters end badly indeed.

One cool thing about the plot is how Krudy and Cole make their female-forward story multi-generational. Much of its appeal comes from watching the sisters counting on the mother’s friends in the form of respected matriarchs played by June Squibb, Annette O’Toole and Marceline Hugot as well as the mighty presence of Margo Martindale, who oversaw the whorehouse with the girls’ mother and mostly steals the movie.

Matters go awry with two dead bodies, a missing knife and secrets and lies being exposed and some justice being served. But what I most admired about this deep dive into the black heart of a small town is how the ladies behind the camera show a flair for the morbid and shocking that almost equal to the Coens. What the wood chipper was to Fargo, a harpoon to the chest is to this crime mystery. Surely, that metal likeness of a fisherman looming over Easter Cove is a salute to that creepy Paul Bunyon wood sculpture.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Blow the Man Down is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for March 20, 2020

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a senior editor for the online awards site Gold Derby. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.