Review: 'Blow the Man Down' – Easter Cove and Its Darkest Secrets
by Zofia Wijaszka
March 24, 2020
There is always something extra inviting when it comes to small villages located by the sea. Let's take one from Practical Magic. It makes you want to go there, meet all the people, it makes you feel free and happy. But it's the opposite feeling in Easter Cove, Maine presented in indie noir, Blow the Man Down. Directed and written by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, the film tells the story of Connolly sisters - Priscilla (Sophie Lowe), and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor). After their mother's passing, the sisters have to figure out the way to save the house from bankruptcy and keep up with their store that Mary Margaret left them. Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned. After a run-in with a dangerous man (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Mary Beth, with the help of Priscilla, tries to cover up his grim murder. Afterwards, both attempt to come back to their new normal; still, it's not easy, especially with the police asking questions and their mother's friends snooping around. One of them, Enid (Margo Martindale), is particularly interested in the sisters.
The most admirable thing about Blow the Man Down, besides the excellent cast, is the directing. It invites you inside the film and greets you. You feel included, and you participate in the sisters' cover-up. You want to sing along the folk fisherman songs. All the characters seem suspicious; you want to dig around and find out about their deepest, darkest secrets. That feeling of inclusion only intensifies as the plot progresses. Thanks to the grainy cinematography throughout and the music that is crucial for the story, the film feels complete and incredibly satisfying. Besides the titular song "Blow the Man Down" used in the film, most of it is accompanied by energetic notes that almost remind me of music composed for Knives Out.
What makes this noir unique is not only the phenomenal directing but also the themes it explores. It's not your usual murder mystery. The film additionally showcases the sisterly bond between Priscilla and Mary Beth. Their bond changes after their mother's death and even more so after the accident. The pressure under which so many young women find themselves is enormous. A web of lies and excuses surround them like a tight cocoon that doesn't ever intend to break open. Who is their friend, and who is their enemy? They will soon come to find out. Although Blow the Man Down begins with the murder, it's sisters' path that is the main subject. Similarly to Crime and Punishment, the viewer is waiting for them to break.
While we cheer for the main characters, there is another person that knows more than she seems. Enid, the devil herself, and the owner of a brothel, just lost her client. Like in the recent film, Lost Girls, the subject of sex work intertwines with the lives of others. The various themes of Blow the Man Down are worked into its many layers that keep unfurling as the tension between the Connolly sisters escalates. In the end, all the threads correlate, combine, and create a gratifying ending.
Sophie Lowe, portraying older sister Priscilla, delivers such an extraordinary performance. Through the film's excellent dialogue, we discover that the sisters are quite different from each other and experience grief differently. While Priscilla prefers to focus on the store, Mary Beth seeks companionship at bars. Morgan Saylor's character is at a crossroads with her life. The actress cleverly embodies the second sister and shows her inner ambivalence and confusion. Mastering the facial expressions definitely helps – reminding me of Mae Whitman in Good Girls. Saylor perfectly expresses Mary Beth's emotions. Another who also deserves applause is Margo Martindale. Her Enid is savage, sneaky, and highly intelligent. The character's skills come in handy. Although she's like a mother to the women living at her house, she'd do anything for the money.
Blow the Man Down is not necessarily a life-altering story. Still, it is a pleasing, incredibly entertaining modern noir. There is something hugely comforting in watching a thriller written and directed by women, with a story about a female killer and a female mob twisted around the topic of sex work in a small town. In some ways, Easter Cove, Maine shows the middle finger to big cities and proves that more can happen in a small village by the sea. This thriller left me completely satisfied. I want to see more films from Cole and Krudy. Blow the Man Down has enticed me to travel to small towns and discover their dark little secrets.
Zofia's Rating: 4.5 out of 5
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