MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 20, 2020: BLOW THE MAN DOWN
If you took the flock of blustering biddies from The Music Man and dropped them into the middle of Fargo, you might get something like co-writers/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s feature debut Blow the Man Down, a darkly funny, femme-centric crime dramedy set in the small Maine fishing town of Easter Cove. Like Desperate Housewives (another distant cousin, story-wise), Blow the Man Down starts with a significant death.
In this case, it’s Mary Margaret Connolly, one of Easter Cove’s matriarchs. She leaves behind daughters Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), who now face an uncertain future. Priscilla wants to keep the family fish shop running, while Mary Beth is eager to leave Easter Cove behind her. But things take a grim turn when Mary Beth accidentally kills an unsavory man she meets in a local bar and turns to her sister for help.
As the young women deal with the aftermath of Mary Beth’s unfortunate encounter, their mother’s peers/friends — town matriarchs Gail (Annette O’Toole), Susie (June Squibb), and Doreen (Marceline Hugot) — decide that it’s time to deal with Enid (Margo Martindale), who runs the town’s brothel. The stories collide when one of Enid’s girls, Dee (Meredith Holzman) turns up dead and the Connolly sisters discover a mysterious bag full of cash.
It all comes together as a satisfying modern noir, with juicy twists, turns, and betrayals and compelling characters. The fact that almost all of those characters are female — and many of them senior citizens — helps set Blow the Man Down apart. It’s not often that we get to see a group of actresses like this dig into such an original story; that they do it so well seems like a sign of great things to come from Cole and Krudy. — Betsy Bozdech
Team #MOTW’s comments:
Loren King A terrific piece of regional filmmaking, Blow the Man Down takes the Minnesota-set Fargo and shifts it to fictional Easter Cove, a fishing village in Maine. Beyond the blackly comic tone, the amusing accents and the small town quirky characters and mindset, the film, written and directed by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, is a subtle female revenge and empowerment story. Read full review.
Marina Antunes A traditional sea shanty takes on a completely new meaning in Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s decidedly feminist Blow the Man Down. This hugely entertaining drama about small-town secrets and the women who keep is exactly the kind of contained thriller I love, one in which nothing is exactly as it seems and even the little comments which seem to come off-hand carry far more weight than one could ever guess. Beautifully captured by cinematographer Todd Banhazl, the brilliant performances from an all-star cast of character actors is wonderfully punctuated by a wonderfully melancholic score of sea shanties and traditional songs.
Susan Wloszczyna: 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. Read full review.
Leslie Combemale Margot Martindale makes every movie better, but co-writer/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s new indie feature Blow the Man Down needs no propping, as things rapidly go from Shakespearean bad to worse in a small New England fishing village named Easter Cove, where there are few ways out, and most of them involve something illegal. Read full review.
Jennifer Merin Blow the man Down is a colorfully noir-ish New England thriller co-written and co-directed by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy.The plot twists and turns around around the plight of sisters Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly as they attempt to cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous local hoodlum and, in doing so, inadvertently uncover the town’s dirty little secrets. Performances by Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor as the sisters are super, as are those of June Squibb and Margo Martindale as two of the towns bad biddies. The scenario that’s sprinkled with subtle clues about what’s to come and the chorus of net-slinging lobstermen singing sea shanties as counterpoint to plot twists keep you thoroughly engaged and entertained throughout.
Nikki Baughan: An atmospheric and strongly-acted small town thriller, Blow The Man Down makes the most of its wind-blown Maine fishing village location and the strength of its mostly-female cast. Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe are excellent as sisters Mary Beth and Priscilla whose attempts to cover up Mart Beth’s accidental murder of a male attacker lead to them making some shocking discoveries about their local community, and the activity’s of their late mother. Elsewhere, the formidable Margot Martindale puts in a sterling performance as a shadowy local matriarch. Helped by a haunting score and evocative cinematography, it’s a promising feature debut for writer/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy.
Pam Grady: The film is ingeniously constructed. Writer/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy knit together multiple story strands so that Blow the Man Down‘s tone constantly shifts, tense now, now hilarious, now a blend of both, now oddly moving. The entire ensemble is terrific. Read full review.
Sheila Roberts Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy helm their meticulously structured story with confidence and style supported by an outstanding production team. DP Todd Banhazi and Production Designer Jasmine Ballou Jones adeptly capture the scandalous mood and low-key look of this seedy coastal enclave with an infamous past where the skiffs are aptly named Chasin’ Tail and No Boundaries. Read full review
Nell Minow: What a pleasure to see actors like June Squibb, Margo Martindale, and Annette O’Toole in roles that usually go to men, complex, wily, and tough. This is a twisty thriller that gives women the central roles, adding another layer of interest and intrigue.
MaryAnn Johanson The necessary pragmatism of women’s lives is on full display in Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s quietly savage — and occasionally weirdly funny — Blow the Man Down. So many women face such limited options for improving their lives or just getting through the day… and what happens when the tough but rational choices they make bump up against those of other women in similar straits? Conflict and compassion wax and wane to become the smart and sneaky driving force of a noir in which the mystery to be solved isn’t quite what we think it is. “Who did this murder?” is a question a lot more knotty than even this twisty genre has trained us to expect, and the answer is unsettling… and, depending on your perspective, perhaps even ultimately unsettled. Read full review.
Sandie Angulo Chen: Writer-directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s debut film Blow the Man Down is a riveting, suspenseful, and beautifully acted women-centered drama. The stars might be the young fishmonger Connolly sisters – dutiful Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and impetuous Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) – who’ve just lost their beloved mother, but the actors who steal the show are the quartet of over-65 supporting actresses. Three of them play the town’s chorus of powerful women: June Squibb as Susie, Annette O’Toole as Gail, and Marceline Hugot as Doreen, while the always amazing Margo Martindale plays Enid, their longtime frenemy and madam of the local brothel. The tone of the film, set in a small and remote coastal town in Maine, has a Coen Brothers-esque quality of dark humor. Things are not what they seem on tiny Easter Cove, and the sisters’ covering up a gruesome crime isn’t even at the top of the unseemly acts taking place, particularly when it comes to Enid’s relationship with her working girls. If only more films could pass the Bechdel Test so effortlessly and in such an inter-generational way. Blow the Man Down is an impressive and unapologetically feminist first feature.
Liz Whittemore Co-directors and screenwriters Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy have created a suspenseful, funny, incredibly dark murder mystery. It’s only after walking away from the screening did I realize the small clues that were sprinkled along the way and but honestly had no idea what would happen from moment to moment. The regional specificity combined with a massively talented largely female cast easily makes Blow The Man Down one of the best films of 2020 so far. Read full review.
Cate Marquis The quaint little Maine fishing village where Blow The Man Down takes place looks like a harmless seaside town where one is more likely to die of boredom than anything else, but an ugly darker side is revealed after one drunken night goes very wrong. The Connolly sisters, Pris (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), grew up in picaresque Easter Cove, Maine, with its well-scrubbed nosy church ladies, cute shops, and lobstermen, but Mary Beth wants to get out. Their mother’s illness and death put her plans for college on hold for but when the funeral is over, Mary Beth intends to leave. At least that’s the plan, until she learns that Pris is in a dire financial bind, and needs her to stay and work in their mother’s fish shop. Despondent, Mary Beth goes to a local bar, gets drunk and picks up a handsome stranger, but then things take a deadly turn, and the sisters find themselves dealing with a gruesome situation. What starts a simple crime tale morphs into something deliciously dark. The pretty veneer of the village is peeled away to expose layers of long-hidden secrets. Aided by a great cast that includes Margot Martindale and June Squibb, and atmospheric sea shanties, co-writers/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy spin a twisty, clever women-centric mystery thriller.
Title: Blow The Man Down
Directors: Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy
Release Date: March 20, 2020
Running Time: 90 minutes
Screenwriters: Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy
Distribution Company: Amazon Studios
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Sandie Angulo Chen, Marina Antunes, Nikki Baughan, Betsy Bozdech, Leslie Combemale, Pam Grady, MaryAnn Johanson, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Sheila Roberts, Liz Whittemore, Susan Wloszczyna
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Edited by Jennifer Merin