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TIFF 2019 Film Review: “Blow the Man Down” (2019) ★★★★


It is actually strange to think that sometimes small towns are the ones that produce serial killers. I find it difficult to explain that, but it’s always felt that the limitation little towns have to offer, or the lack of social life paralyzes a sane mind, turning it into a numb organ that’s not only irresponsive, senseless but clueless as well. This, of course, cannot be used as a justification of any crime committed, but it should certainly lead to a certain degree of analysis of the circumstances you may find yourself debating after watching Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s “Blow the Man Down”.

The film follows Connolly sisters of Easter Cove who just buried their mother, the town’s matriarch, Mary Margaret Connolly. As the sisters try to cope with the loss while they try to understand what kind of life lies for them in the uncertain future, Mary Beth (Morgan Saylor) goes out to localize her pain by drinking alcohol in a bar where she meets a man named Gorski. After a little encounter with him in his car, the young woman knows that she must run for her life when she realizes how dangerous he is. Using self-defense, she manages to save her life but claims his. Not knowing what to do, the girl asks the only person who she can rely on most, her sister Priscilla (Sophie Lowe). As the two try to cover up the murder, the sisters learn a dark secret of the family they’re yet to learn to process.

In the meantime, we meet Madame Enid Nora Devlin (Margo Martindale) who runs a bed & breakfast-turned-brothel with an established reputation of being a woman who knows how to please the needs of the little town. The woman faces two challenging issues – she tries to identify who stole her fifty thousand dollars in cash and is yet to find one of her missing girls, Dee, who becomes a major part of the police investigation. Her whereabouts turn into a major concern, the result of which will change the course of the town and its residents forever.

One of the strongest elements of “Blow the Man Down” is its strong score that writes its own storyline throughout the film. Shot as a noir thriller, the film perfectly captures the loneliness of the town, problems women face, some men that may take advantage of, oxygen that is not enough to breathe for the Connolly sisters, and of course, the murder case that is better left unsolved. However, it will have no choice but to force people to face their demons one way or another. As for the performance, the cast does an amazing job by painting a dark picture of despair, fear, and uncertainty of everyone involved that literally must, at some point, do something about it. And of course, each and every one of them will offer its solution, which is far from being a conventional one.

That said, what is truly amazing about “Blow the Man Down” is that right from the start you never doubt about its ability to give you the long-awaited conclusion, explain the family affair, the killing, and how the brothel existed in the first place, which is, in a way, devastating. But as soon as you know about the town and the life it lives, nothing will surprise you about it anymore.

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