The dark underbelly of a small town has provided cinematic fodder for generations. It’s just a lucrative source of storytelling. After a debut last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, another effort joins the fray, starting today, in Blow the Man Down, a surprisingly fun drama that slowly turns the screws. The material may sound serious and even grim, but it actually is handled with such a steady tone that it almost resembles something that the Coen Brothers would do, as opposed to a bleak expose. Amazon Studios has this one and will put it out on their service, so expect it to be one of the higher profile VOD options this weekend.
The movie is a mix of drama and mystery, with actually a little bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. It’s set in the small Maine town of Easter Cove, a remote coastal fishing village. As is often the case in fictional stories like this, the bonds and secrets of this town are huge. Here, the men go to work out on the sea, catching fish, while the women, especially a group of older women, handle things on land. They serve as the community’s gatekeepers, operating on a discrete yet powerful level. That’s just how it has always been, though things are about to change. Mary Margaret Connolly (Linda Shary), one of the town’s matriarchs, has passed away. Not only do her two daughters, Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) and Priscilla (Sophie Lowe), face an unclear immediate future now, with financial burdens, they also are about to have a dead body on their hands. Priscilla has taken over the family fish shop, while Mary Beth doesn’t exactly warm to any new responsibilities. However, that aforementioned body complicates things. As this goes on, the older ladies, namely Doreen Burke (Marceline Hugot), Susie Gallagher (June Squibb), and Gail Maguire (Annette O’Toole), begin to put pressure on local business owner Enid Nora Devlin (Margo Martindale), especially considering the unsavory nature of her work. Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy share writing and directing duties, while Jordan Dykstra and Brian McOmber composed the music. Todd Banhazl handles the cinematography. Rounding out the cast are Will Brittain, Thomas Kee, Kat Palardy, Gayle Rankin, and Skipp Sudduth, among others.
There’s just an inherent entertainment factor in watching a town controlled by old women start to expose its secrets. Everyone plays this straight, but there’s never not a sense that fun is being had. Margo Martindale especially is reveling in her madam type character, letting every line of dialogue spew from her mouth like polite venom. Really, everyone’s interactions here shine. That’s a big reason why the film succeeds. Everyone involved just know how to effectively tell a story.
Blow the Man Down has an interesting tone that helps set it apart. It’s hardly a comedy, but it plays somewhat with its tongue planted firmly in cheek. This keeps things from being either too serious or too silly. The Coen Brothers would be proud, that’s for sure. It’s a thin line that filmmakers Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy need to work, but they walk it well here. It’s an understatement to say that it’s going to be exciting to see what they opt to do next.
As of today, Blow the Man Down will be available On Demand from Amazon. It’s a quality option that manages to be easily enjoyable, despite its potentially unsavory subject matter. Amazon Studios has a good one on their hands here, which first screened at Tribeca last year. With this year’s festival postponed, you can watch this movie now and pretend that you’re at a version of the fest…
Be sure to check out Blow the Man Down, on VOD this weekend!
(Photos courtesy of Amazon Studios)