BLOW THE MAN DOWN
(director/writer: Danielle Krudy/Bridget Savage Cole; cinematographer: Todd Banhazl; editor: Marc Vives; music: Brian McOmber/Jordan Dykstra; cast: Morgan Saylor (Mary Beth Connolly), Sophie Lowe (Priscilla Connolly), Margo Martindale (Enid Nora Devlin), June Squibb (Susie Gallagher), Will Brittain (Officer Justin Brennan), Gayle Rankin (Alexis), Annette O’Toole (Gail Maguire), Marceline Hugot (Doreen Burke), Skipp Sudduth (Officer Coletti), Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Gorski); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Drew Houpt, Alex Scharfman, Tim Headington, Lia Buman; Amazon Studio; 2019)
“Appealing mystery story set in an insular Maine fishing village.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The debut feature of the writer/director duo of Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy is this appealing mystery story set in an insular Maine fishing village.
Easter Cove is a dank fishing village of mostly Irish-Americans in coastal Maine. It’s a windswept and colorless place with only a few residents; and, since the residents are mostly poor they are living in mostly old homes needing repairs. It has the look of a forlorn and weather-beaten place, where there are no street lights and at night the docks can give even a seaman the chills.
The film is framed around a chorus of fisherman singing sea shanties (a Greek chorus), who appear at regular intervals to perform the titular sea shanty.
The Connolly sisters, the free spirit 18-year-old Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor), who wants to flee the depressing village to go to college, and the few years older straight-laced sister lifer resident, holding down the family business, Pris (Sophie Lowe), have cared for their ailing mom, the owner of a fish store, over the past year but she has died and left them deep in financial woes.
Mary Beth tries to forget her troubles at the local bar and with her guard down drinks and snorts coke with the undesirable Gorski (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Back in his isolated home, she discovers in his car trunk traces of blood and human hair. Feeling trapped and threatened by him, Mary Beth grabs a harpoon from his house and fatally stabs him in the neck.
Back home she confides in her sister to keep quiet about the incident and dump the body, as she’s not sure if she could be charged with murder or cleared by a plea of self-defense.
Meanwhile we get introduced to the elderly and manipulative Enid Nora Devlin (Margo Martindale), an old friend of their mom’s, who is the owner of a bed-and-breakfast called the Ocean View. In actuality, the place is a brothel.
Besides the body of Gorski washing ashore, there’s the one of a girl, with track marks in her arm, who worked at the brothel. There’s also a stash of money found by the bodies. It seems the prostitute crossed Enid and paid the price for that.
The atmospheric seaside noir film has the clean-cut cop Brennan (Will Brittain) as the investigator, who might see through the lies he’s told but fails to find the closure in the case that one might expect from an honest cop.
Though the dialogue is banal and the crime story is unfulfilling, the film (which is quirky enough to be a Coen Brothers film) has a jarring impact, some eccentric characters to revel in and a good moral dilemma to ponder.
It sizzles in an old-fashioned N. E. community where the puritan elderly matriarchs (Annette O’Toole, June Squibb, and Marceline Hugot), who run things in town, know about the bad things Enid does but have been kept under wraps by her power grabs.
REVIEWED ON 3/27/2020 GRADE: B+