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Streaming review: 'Blow the Man Down' 

click to enlarge Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor in "Blow the Man Down."

PHOTO COURTESY AMAZON STUDIOS

Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor in "Blow the Man Down."

As we all hunker down in our homes in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, movie theaters around the greater Rochester area have all temporarily closed their doors. So at the moment home streaming is pretty much the only way to watch a new movie. Happily, there’s a constant flow of offerings arriving on digital platforms each day, ready for your viewing pleasure.

This past weekend Amazon Prime debuted “Blow the Man Down,” Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s compelling crime thriller that should make an excellent option for those looking for a bit of sex, murder, and mystery in their quarantine watching.

Set in the fictional seaside village of Easter Cove, Maine, the film opens during the wake of respected town elder Mary Margaret Connolly, organized by her grown daughters Mary Beth and Priscilla (Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe). Even before their mother’s passing, things haven’t been great between the sisters. While Priscilla took up the responsibilities of running the family fish market and caring for their ailing mother, Mary Beth has longed for an escape from the stifling existence of the village where she’s lived all her life. It has also become apparent that their mother has left them with a mountain of debt, and they’re precariously close to losing not just the business, but their family home as well.

Looking to let off steam after the funeral, Mary Beth heads out for a night of heavy drinking at the pub where she meets an unsavory-looking man named Gorski (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). After downing a few too many shots and taking an ill-considered drive to his home, things turn violent. There’s an attempted assault, and Gorski ends up with a harpoon through his head.

Mary Beth ropes Priscilla into helping her cover up the grisly crime, leaving them with a dingy cooler filled with more than just the catch of the day. Tossing the cooler into the sea, the sisters hope they’ll be home free. Then a body’s discovered that isn’t Gorski’s and that’s just the beginning of their problems. It turns out the freshly-discovered victim was employed at the local bed-and-breakfast run by shrewd, steely Enid (played by character actress Margo Martindale) which also doubles as the town brothel.

A larger mystery begins to unravel and soon the sisters find themselves sinking further into the dark underbelly of their seemingly quiet Easter Cove, dredging up secrets and a dark history their mother tried to keep hidden from them.

The directorial debut of filmmakers Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, “Blow the Man Down” is a down and dirty nautical noir with a few unexpectedly whimsical touches, including a Greek chorus of shanty-singing fisherman who pop up to deliver thematically-appropriate musical commentary. The directors also weave in some subtle social commentary, as themes of sisterly bonds and female camaraderie begin to float to the surface.

Best of all, they make room for some deliciously complex supporting roles for veteran actresses June Squibb, Annette O’Toole, Marceline Hugot, and of course the always marvelous Martindale. The women all seem like kind, grandmotherly types, but there’s menace beneath their pastel sweaters and offers of tea and cake. They know everything that happens in their town, and if they have to, will find ways of handling any elements they don’t like. They’re gangsters in hair curlers, and their presence has a wonderful way of overturning our expectations.

Steeped in atmosphere and a wonderfully textured sense of place, the film gets an additional goose from Brian McOmber and Jordan Dykstra’s tense, jittery score. While the story of ordinary people in over their heads in a life of crime never strays too far from territory explored in the Coen brothers' decades long filmography, it makes me very curious to see what Savage Cole and Krudy get up to next.

But be warned: if you're anything like me, the movie is likely to leave you with a deep hankering for some well-cooked fish. So just think carefully before watching if you’re not already stocked up with the necessary fixings.

Adam Lubitow is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to becca@rochester-citynews.com.

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