Blow the Man Down review – a strange slice of northern New England life A Female Shanty

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Summary

Amazon Prime’s Blow the Man Down is a strange slice of northern New England life.

As a product of the northeast, born and raised, anyone who calls New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago home may view Blow the Man Down as a foreign film that has its own distinct time and place that is owed to the shots of Maine’s blustery northern December shores, its desolate roads, aging population, and dyeing industry. It’s the kind of area that thinks it prides itself on stoic modesty, where today’s millennials will discuss their dirty laundry with any stranger. That’s essentially what Amazon Prime’s Blow the Man Down is all about — an area cut off from the rest of the world, its residents doing what they need to do to make ends meet, and they won’t air out their dirty secrets.

Blow the Man Down was written and directed by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy (The Distance Between the Apple and the Tree), and they wrote a script filled with quirky, but not overly so, characters that are folded into an interesting story. The basic premise is about women, young and old, who, for the lack of a better term, pull themselves up by the bootstraps while covering up some very dark secrets. The film’s main plot revolves around adolescent sisters Mary Beth (Homeland’s Morgan Saylor) and her sister Priscilla Connelly (Romper Stomper’s Sophie Lowe) trying to keep their house afloat after their mother’s death. They then have a run-in with a local shady character, Gorski (Interrogation’s Ebon Moss-Bachrach) that turns grisly.; they attempt to cover it up, which opens the door to the town’s seedy history.

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I won’t give away most of the film’s plot or better moments. While the story is intriguing, the script doesn’t always work the way it’s intended. While the characters are eccentric, the film’s humor also has an issue of hitting their marks. What the film does have in its pocket is the great Margo Martindale (Instant Family), the queen of all character-actors. She plays Mrs. Devlin, the runner of a local Bed and Breakfast that runs as a cover for a brothel for the port as the ships come in. Her isolated and no-nonsense, cold businesswomen are masked by a warm parental glow that is always looking for new prospects to mother into cash-cows. June Squibb is also a stand out here, as Susie Gallagher and Devlin’s counterpoint, who has taken charge of keeping the towns’ secrets and writing its wrongs.

If anything, Amazon Prime’s Blow the Man Down is a strange slice of very northern New England life that answers the question of why you never mess with a bunch of old-biddies who gather for afternoon tea. It’s an original story, which is rare, that is different, and you find an appreciation will build as the quarantined days melt together, and the amount of streaming garbage piles up. Along with Martindale’s performance, it makes this worth your 90 minutes.


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M.N. Miller

M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.

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