BLOW THE MAN DOWN – Review by Susan Granger
Introduced by hearty fishermen singing that rousing sea-shanty, women rock the boat in this salty, subtly droll, modern-day murder mystery, reminiscent of the Coen brothers’ black comedy thrillers.
In the small, coastal Maine town of Easter Cove, a drunken man is chasing a screaming woman through the snow; they’re observed by Enid Devlin (Margo Martindale) from her upstairs window.
Mourning the recent death of their mother, two sisters – stoic, sensible Priscilla Connolly (Sophie Lowe) and restless, adventurous Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) – are faced with overwhelming debt. Even if they can keep the family’s seafood store afloat, they’ll be forced to sell their weather-beaten home.
They’re comforted and counseled by an outspoken trio of their mother’s elderly, Irish-Catholic friends (June Squibb, Annette O’Toole, Marceline Hugot), along with Enid, the imperious proprietor of Oceanview, a bed & breakfast/brothel.
As it turns out, Mary Beth was the screaming woman, pursued by predatory Gorski (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). When he tries to rape her, Mary Beth spears him with a harpoon then clobbers him with a brick. Terrified, Mary Beth summons Priscilla. Using an oyster-shucking knife, they cram Gorski’s corpse into a cooler and toss it into the ocean.
Shortly afterward, the dead body of a prostitute who worked for Enid washes up on the shore. Did Gorski kill her? Searching his isolated shack, Mary Beth finds a sack with $50,000 in cash. Where did it come from? And will anyone connect the sisters with these sordid crimes?
First-time feature filmmakers Danielle Krudy and Bridget Savage Cole won the Best Screenplay Award at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, while Todd Banhazl (“Hustlers”) received a special jury mention for his cinematography; the film was shot in Harpswell, Maine.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Blow the Man Down is a suspenseful 7, evoking the secret bond of sisterhood – in all its permutations.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Blow the Man Down is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for March 20, 2020