Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Maine town that's far from idyllic

A fishing town provides the setting for a nice helping of New England noir in Blow the Man Down.

No, the above photo does not show two people getting rid of infectious material gathered from a coronavirus hot spot.

It’s a photo from Blow the Man Down, a little helping of noir that will be available on Amazon starting Friday, March 20, and which could provide welcome diversion in these days of maniacal, single-minded focus on ... well ... you don't need me to tell you what has all our attention.

Set in Maine, Blow the Man Down marks the debut of directors Danielle Krudy and Bridget Savage who join the ranks of those who have attempted to expose the myths about the idyllic nature of small-town life, in this case, a fishing village where something fishy (actually many things fishy) seem to be happening.

The directors use a small chorus of singing fisherman to punctuate a story that begins at a funeral. Two sisters Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor are bidding farewell to their mother. Lowe’s Priscilla has been devoted to helping her mom and dutifully wants to take over her mother’s fish market.

Saylor’s Mary Beth, the younger of the two siblings, simply wants to get out of town.

Irate when she learns that their mother left a pile of debt, Mary Beth storms off for a spitefully drunken evening. At a local bar, she meets a guy (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) who soon will wind up dead, a condition we're led to believe he richly deserves.

No fair revealing more because Krudy and Savage, who also wrote the screenplay, fill the story with surprising (if not entirely shocking) twists as they bring a variety of townsfolk into focus.

Margo Martindale portrays the sly and powerful Enid Nora Devlin, the woman who runs the town’s bead and breakfast, which happens to be a brothel. Gayle Rankin appears as one of the young women who works for Enid. Will Brittain has a nice turn as the local cop who’s trying to get to the bottom of the story's foul proceedings.

June Squibb, Annette O’Toole and Marceline Hugot play three women who know everyone’s history and who form a kind of court in this Irish-American community. These actresses instantly convince us that their characters have known each other forever and understand the social calculus that keeps the town afloat.

The performances are all spot-on, and Krudy and Savage add enough New England atmospherics to create the right amount of chill. Oddball noir easily can get off track. To its credit, Blow the Man Down never derails.

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