Downeast, directed by Joe Raffa, takes us to the underbelly of a town that is visually very distinct from anything that you would have seen before. The events and the whole premise might seem similar in the broad strokes, but it is the details that create a profound impact. The intricacies of the world created by the writers Greg Finley (who also plays the protagonist) and Joe Raffa make Downeast stand apart.
The minute details leave a subconscious impression where you don’t realize why you got so affected or engrossed in their world in the first place. We all have seen epic dramas about revenge, regret, or a corrupt or sordid segment of society. The greatest directors and actors of our time have made their careers out of such storylines. But if there is one thing that we could learn from all those cult classics, it is that films are not made out of big phenomenons or life turning events, but it’s about those menial and everyday details that we often overlook in our lives. And that is what Downeast does successfully.
“Sometimes a man gotta do what he doesn’t wanna do,” says Uncle Billy to his nephew Tommy. That’s the way he sees life. But that’s not how Tommy perceives things. He bears this heavy baggage of regret on his shoulders. He helps his alcoholic father, George, on his boat. He never intended to get out of Downeast, but he also never thought things would get so drab. His monotonous life leaves the somber alleys and for once takes a bright turn when he bumps into his childhood crush and his deceased best friend’s sister, Emma. They always had a thing but never really found an opportune moment to express what they felt.
As soon things seem to get better, Tommy’s life again takes him to the forsaken slope with nothing but bad memories.
Regret of the past
Emma had come to the town after 7 years. Her brother, Mickey, was brutally murdered by the local goons. The case was inevitably closed as there were only cold leads. Nobody wanted to speak against Kerrigan, the local mafia leader. Kerrigan considered himself to be a sort of RobinHood, who, as he said, had built the city brick by brick. He thinks that had he not been there, the Italian mafia from the North end would have created havoc in the city. So, according to Kerrigan, he is, what you call, the necessary evil.
Tommy and Mickey had indulged in a fright that created animosity between them and Kerrigan’s gang. As a result, Mickey was stabbed, and nobody could do anything about it. But Emma wants to change that, but she doesn’t realize the magnanimity of stakes she is betting upon.
Kerrigan makes Tommy his pawn, something that had never happened before. It was mainly because Tommy had something to lose for the first time in his life, i.e., Emma.
Between the high stakes and the vested interest, it becomes a chess game, only this time losing was not an option for Tommy.
Downeast’s Most Vital Point
I have always believed that an actor who writes his own characters can portray it better than anybody else. Then be it Phoebe- Waller-Bridge writing Fleabag or Sylvester Stallone creating Rocky Balboa. It is for a mere reason that they understand the world fully. That’s what Greg Finley does best. He is in sync with the character and totally immersed in this world that has its unique identity. It would have been even more impactful if the film didn’t move at such a brisk pace. The kind of detailing done deserved more time. The joints, the alleys, the pubs, the bars, the conversations, the characters, and the life in Downside needed to be explored more, only because it was backed by strong written material.
It is a dense drama that moves at a brisk pace but indeed an entertaining one. Do give it a watch.
Downeast is a 2021 Drama Thriller Film directed by Joe Raffa. The film is written by Greg Finley and Joe Raffa.