Review by Camden Ferrell
The feature debut of directing duo Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy will most likely be compared to the films of the Coen Brothers, but their voice is a new and refreshing one in film. Their new movie Blow the Man Down premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. This movie is a fun take on the noir genre, and it blends its suspense, mystery, and atmosphere incredibly well.
After losing their mother, two girls in a small fishing town in Maine have a dangerous encounter with a man. While attempting to cover up the incident, the girls go into the underbelly of their town and uncover secrets about their mother and the other women in town. The idea of dark secrets of small-town residents isn’t anything new, but the way the story is told is unique and really entertaining.
Savage Cole and Krudy’s script is fairly smart throughout. It doesn’t overindulge in dialogue or overt imagery. It prefers to find its stride in the interactions of the town’s residents, its construction of suspenseful scenes, and a slowly unfolding mystery that keeps the audience engaged. It has some great dialogue between its characters, and strong moments of physical storytelling, and it strikes a nice balance of both throughout.
The acting is superb in this movie. Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor play the two sisters, and they give strong leading performances. They both take the drama and dark comedy in this film and are able to balance it and cater to both of those different styles. While they are great, most of the acclaim of this movie will be for the supporting performance of the often-apt Margo Martindale. Her character runs an inn which is also a brothel, and she plays this role with conviction. She gives a stern and captivating performance that allows her to steal many of the scenes in which she’s in.
What’s great about this movie is how it doesn’t rely on too many gimmicks. It’s a simple mystery movie, and it’s one that is packed with suspense and quirky moments. It sufficiently keeps the audience guessing while making sure its surprises are logically and narratively sound. And while it is very subtle, this is also a thematically relevant story about sisterhood and the need for women to look out for one another.
The directors do a great job with creating a tense atmosphere from start to finish. While they balance everything with a liberal dose of mundanity and small-town antics, there is a looming sense of unease that is found in the town’s mist-covered landscape. There’s a unique visual aesthetic throughout that allows the audience to feel immersed in the town’s fittingly mysterious ambiance.
However, there are some rare moments in the film that meander a little too much. This mostly happens in the film’s first act before it is able to hit its stride. Luckily, these shortcomings are minor and are more than forgiven by the final two acts and how breezily they pass by. This is a strong, tightly executed, and entertaining mystery and suspense film.
Blow the Man Down is a prime example of the need for new voices in cinema. This movie is refreshing, tense, and lots of fun. It may not be perfect, but it’s a fantastic feature debut that holds a lot of promise for this directing duo. During this time when movie theaters may not be the safest option, definitely consider watching this movie from home.
Blow the Man Down is available on Amazon Prime March 20.