The fact that this film would have never gotten a theatrical release is more criminal than any of the actual crimes depicted in the story.
After premiering at Tribeca in 2019, Blow the Man Down was purchased by Amazon, to be release in March, exclusively on Prime Video. Huge mistake, Amazon! Not that it matters, since most theaters were closed by then anyway. But this would be an electrifying experience on the big screen with the big speakers. Since it wasn’t going to be in theaters though, it probably benefited from folks being in lockdown. A lot of people may not have found it under normal circumstances, opting to go see something on the big screen instead of perusing Amazon Prime. Maybe there’s hope for a theatrical release for the fifth anniversary if it gains a following.
In their feature debut as a unit, co-writer-directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy manage to bring an entirely fresh set of concepts, characters and aesthetics to a genre that’s become, unfortunately, trite. It’s obvious they love mystery movies enough to make a great one while breaking the rules confidently. But that’s as much as I can say without divulging what’s special about the plot.
Being unfamiliar with their previous work, I was instantly blown away by the quality of production. Pause this movie at any frame and I’d pay to hang it on my wall as a decoration. With cinematography by Todd Banhazl, every shot is equal parts beautiful and seedy, it’s haunting, and just plain impressive, as well as vital to the tone.
Every aspect of production design, from costume to sets, piles onto the excellent world-building. In the story, Easter Cove is a rough port town, largely unplugged from the rest of society, with an exceptionally dark underbelly. If one of the fishermen didn’t take a huge rip from his vape in the first scene, it might be impossible to tell that they’re in the present day. The way Cole and Krudy encapsulate the town makes you feel like you’ve visited, and seen enough of it for one lifetime.
The soundtrack’s nothing short of perfect. A gnawing score poetically accompanies the tense moments, but when music cues would probably seem cheap, they make use of sounds present in the scene to heighten suspense. The kind of thought and effort that deserves the big speakers. Come on, Amazon! Also, there’s a few scenes where fishermen sort of serenade the viewer, if that’s your thing.
Every single actor in here killed it, delivering realistic dialogue with that thick accent, and it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe doing big things for years to come. But it would be a shame not to spotlight Margo Martindale, who absolutely steals the show, as she always seems to, with the most emotionally complex portrayal of a pimp ever brought to screen. Her rivals, a sort of macabre Golden Girls, played by June Squibb, Marceline Hugot and Annette O’Toole, are an entertaining and pivotal presence in the story. The story of this group of women is as powerful and compelling as the journey of the two main characters.
To compare this to any other films would be quite a disservice, but if you’re into movies with darker themes, this is a delightful experience, in a really weird way. Once everyone gets around to seeing this, it’ll be talked about for years. At only an hour and a half run time, you won’t regret giving it a shot. (5/5)
DIALOGUE THAT SHINES:
“I need this like a hole in the head.”