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"BLOW THE MAN DOWN"
(2020) (Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Drama: As two sisters try to cover up something bad that one of them has done, they uncover unsavory aspects of the small fishing town in which they live.
PLOT:

Sisters Priscilla (SOPHIE LOWE) and Mary Beth Connolly (MORGAN SAYLOR) have had their life upended in the small fishing town of Easter Cove, Maine. Their beloved mother, Mary Margaret, has died, leaving them to run the local fish store and facing the likelihood of losing their childhood home due to financial issues.

Things go from bad to worse when Mary Beth decides to accompany a newcomer, Gorski (EBON MOSS-BACHRACH), back to his place that night, only to learn he's a bad and possibly murderous sort. In self-defense, she ends up killing him and informs her sister of what she's just done. But instead of going to the local police duo of veteran cop Officer Coletti (SKIPP SUDDUTH) and his much younger partner, Officer Justin Brennan (WILL BRITTAIN), they decide to dispose of the body and pretend that nothing happened.

But when Mary Beth returns to his remote home to retrieve some incriminating evidence they accidentally left there, she finds a bag of money and takes it back home, figuring no one will miss it. Unbeknownst to them, that involves their late mother's dear friend, Enid Nora Devlin (MARGO MARTINDALE), who runs the local brothel where young prostitutes such as Alexis (GAYLE RANKIN) work. That's much to the collective chagrin of a trio of senior citizens -- Susie Gallagher (JUNE SQUIBB), Gail Maguire (ANNETTE O'TOOLE) and Doreen Burke (MARCELINE HUGOT) -- who want that place shut down.

With Enid becoming suspicious of the sisters, a body being discovered, and Officer Brennan wanting to figure out what's going on, Priscilla and Mary Beth try to keep their deed secret, all while uncovering unsavory aspects of their small town.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10

It's funny observing groups of people -- be they at a party, a wedding, the local bar or a huge arena -- listening to music. Of course, those who've paid decent to large sums of money to hear their favorite band likely know most if not all of the lyrics to at least the most popular and famous songs played. But even in those circumstances and certainly among the smaller gatherings, those in attendance often mutter along to the lyrics but then suddenly belt out the chorus in their loudest public voices.

Not that I hear it that often, but a song that's definitely true in that regard for yours truly is "Blow the Man Down." If someone offered me a million dollars for even half the lyrics, I doubt I could do it, but after humming-muttering through them, I'd be just fine loudly singing the titular chorus like I was some drunken sailor in some seaside bar. The fisherman who sings that song at the beginning of the film of the same name (now available on Amazon Prime Video) doesn't have any problem with the lyrics, but there are problems aplenty for the sisterly protagonists in this drama written and directed by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy.

In fact, that fisherman and others of his trade seemingly serve as the Greek chorus who occasionally appear during this 90-some minute offering where their lifestyle and the oldest profession in the world that benefits from that are the pivot point around which this well-made and deeper-than-it-looks offering revolves.

It's the tale of the Connolly sisters -- Priscilla (Sophie Lowe) and Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) -- who are first seen sharing a nip from a flask in honor of their recently dearly departed mother whose funeral they're about to attend. In the small fishing town of Easter Cove, Maine, everyone knows them, but their mom has left them in financial straits with a home and fish market they might lose. To unwind, Mary Beth heads to the local bar, picks up a newcomer (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), and drives him back to his place for what appears will be a one-night stand.

But when she spots a handgun in his glove compartment and later bloody and women's clothing in his trunk, she realizes this was a bad idea. But it's too late and he lives too far away from town for any sort of escape or call for help. And that's when a harpoon, brick and later a fish-cutting knife come into play and the sisters' lives begin to unravel.

At the same time, a trio of local senior citizens -- played by June Squibb, Annette O'Toole, and Marceline Hugot -- have decided once and for all that they've finally had enough of their fellow resident and locale madam, Enid (Margot Martindale), and her bed and breakfast brothel that serves the fishermen. The local veteran cop (Skipp Sudduth) has no problem with the place, however, while his much younger officer partner (Will Brittain), is distracted by Priscilla and then the discovery of a body in the nearby waterway. All of which leads to him questioning one of Enid's young hookers (Gayle Rankin) who's also drawn the interest of the three older ladies.

I don't want to give away any additional details, but will say it's all handled quite well in an offering that mixes drama, suspense and even black comedy into a satisfying (if decidedly R-rated) offering. In fact, and not taking into consideration how things wrap up, this feels like a cool pilot episode for a TV series along the lines of "Ozark" where lots of secrets and darkness hide in the recesses of a small town, slowly revealing themselves. The performances are all good and I could easily see these characters and their storylines being expanded out over a few seasons of binge-worthy TV.

Should that ever happen, I'll be first in line -- uh, queued up -- to watch. Until then, what's offered in this tidy package should suffice for those into such dramas. Knowing nothing about this before sitting down to watch it, I was surprised -- in a good way -- by how things unfold. And while I still can't sing any of the lyrics outside of the title, "Blow The Man Down" is good enough that you won't forget big chunks of it for some time to come. It rates as a 6.5 out of 10.




Reviewed March 18, 2020 / Posted March 20, 2020


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