BLOW THE MAN DOWN – Review by Martha K Baker

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The title refers, of course, to the sea shanty most kids used to learn in the 5th grade. And so this original movie on Amazon begins with that ditty, sung by the fishers of Easter Cove, Maine, on the docks of that little, insular Maine coastal town.

The men sing in Blow the Man Down, but also men torment, and men try to solve a murder. The women bond, threaten, prostitute, and protect their secrets.

It’s winter. It’s Maine. It’s fishy. The Connelly sisters, Mary Beth and Priscilla, mourn the loss of their mother, Mary Margaret, a pillar of the community. Mary Beth wants out of that claustrophobic town; Priscilla wants to hold on to their mother’s fish store.

And then a man dies at the hands of one of the sisters, but both cover up the murder. Cutting instruments are involved, as is a Styrofoam burial at sea. All would have been wicked well if the kaffeeklatsch of women hadn’t tried to end an arrangement. This little business, which had satisfied the needs of the men in town, had been supported by Mother Connolly, much to her daughters’ surprise.

The plot, written by the directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, thickens like clam chowder, and is as almost as predictable as a steaming bowl of same. Leading the cast as the sisters are Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor, but they do not stand out. They depend mightily on a supporting cast of character actors. Among the men are Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Girls) as the bad man and Will Britain as the good cop.

The actresses include Annette O’Toole from Smallville and June Squib from Nebraska, who always mugs more than acts. Towering over all is the irrepressible Margo Martindale as the madam, her every move a chapter in the textbook, How To Act. She’s terrifying and terrific. And only she makes a whisper of an attempt to effect the Maine accent.

Although not great, Blow the Man Down is chilling and threatening and tight.

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

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Martha K. Baker

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.