Blow The Man Down is a wildly impressive debut that brings a fresh voice to the crime genre from a powerhouse duo of female directors. Set in a small fishing village in Maine, there seems to be a lot of shady business flowing through the cold waters. Heavily taking inspiration from the likes of Fargo and even Twin Peaks, this thriller never bites off more than it can chew, even in its more comedic moments. Directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy have made a film that can be compared to its genre predecessors, while still feeling extremely unique and original.
The basic premise is fairly simple, but as more truths come to light, you will very quickly become more and more engrained in the inner workings of Easter Cove. From a pair of grisly murders to a bed and breakfast that’s actually serving as a prostitute ring, this town is not what it seems. Yet the elder women at the center of it are all bubbly and extremely extroverted, forming a clear social hierarchy. And as riveting as the crime element of the film is, it’s the social politics among this group that brings the most laughs and questions forward.
It’s these moments where the filmmakers’ creativity comes to light. A tense sit down among the women is interrupted by an elder husband upset that he dropped his fork. A veteran cop who is more interested in caramel frappuccino’s than getting to the gritty elements of his case leads an investigation. Blow The Man Down is authentic, and both directors have cited this to be a deeply personal film, which is clearly felt. Not only does the ensemble cast feel legitimate and very fleshed out, but the random townsfolk do as well. Thick accents arise out of quick banter, the locations feel run down and dirty, while the narrative is broken up by sea shanties that give a great sense of a story being told.
And the story on display is one that is brought up fairly often: How far is one willing to go for family? For the Connolly Sisters, played by Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor, the answer is very far. Unfortunately, this is where the film loses its footing a bit. Very early on, a murder is committed, and there’s no time spent on the traumatic elements of it. The sisters are shown to be paranoid and guilt-ridden about other plot elements, yet this one is seemingly glossed over. Without that internal trauma, the sisters seem fully able to accept what occurred without question as long as they don’t get caught. Guilt is extremely prevalent in the overall theme of Blow The Man Down, and murder seems like the perfect time to draw out that agonizing emotion.
Luckily, the film expands upon the initial murder pretty quickly, and the chain of events that follow are much more developed. There are repeated shots of blackened water flowing, and each is typically followed by a revelation. The secrets exposed in the murky water become more corrupt than the previous one, and create a scope of the inner workings of the town. And with the final shot of the film, these inner politics among the townsfolk is fully exposed. Crimes in small towns often expose the truth about those who live among them, and Blow The Man Down is no different. As sung by the townsfolk, living and sinning go hand in hand, and this could become adopted as the anthem of Easter Cove overnight.
As stated, this film is extremely creative in terms of its story. It constantly keeps its viewers on the hook, and always reels you in a bit more up until its finale. Blow The Man Down is clever all around, although it could definitely use some polish, but in very small amounts. The direction, particularly in certain dialogue exchanges, reverts to a basic format. While this isn’t the worst thing a film could do, the directing duo shows a lot of potential everywhere else, so it speaks to the bar the film has set for itself. It’s a debut with tension that is discernible, and writing that feels organic. Paired with a great score, Blow The Man Down is a concise thriller that packs plenty of punches.
Tribeca Film Festival has said this is its most diverse lineup yet, and Blow The Man Down is a fantastic example of its female representation. Cole and Krudy were able to assemble a fantastic ensemble, all of which bring something different to the film, especially the brilliant Margo Martindale. Furthermore, upon hearing from the cast and crew, the level of passion that went into making the film is evident in the final product. Cole and Krudy will be a filmmaking team that many will want to keep an eye on, as this truly feels like a pairing that has a fantastic career ahead of them.
Blow The Man Down celebrated its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, and is part of the US Narrative Competition.