Mark Jenkin’s Cornish fishing tale is a masterclass in cinematic art and social commentary, providing a hypnotic and salty soap opera. This is unique, captivating and utterly beautiful cinema. Mixing its grainy 16mm black and white footage with modern Cornwall in exploring the interface between tradition and change on the Cornish coast.
Martin Ward (Edward Rowe) plays a fisherman who scrapes together a living within his rapidly changing village. The community he once served now a playground for summer tourists and holiday makers. While the fishermen who fed the community of his childhood slowly vanish through industrial decline. His brother Steven (Giles King) using the family fishing boat to ferry tourists around the coast, while friends who once rode the waves now drive taxi’s to make ends-meet. Martin and Steven’s childhood home sold to Londoners as a holiday venue, its interior ‘modernised’ to suit city tastes. The tension between Martin and the new owners of his family home, Sandra and Tim Leigh (Mary Woodvine and Simon Shepherd) and their two teenage children (Georgia Ellery and Jowan Jacobs), a clash between tradition, community and home versus cultural change. Martin’s teenage nephew Neil (Isaac Woodvine), keen to embrace the traditions and history his uncle holds dear. While also embracing the influx of teenage holiday makers who keep the villages economy afloat.
As events spiral over the course of one summer. Martin’s traditional ideas, isolation and need for community, conflict with the Leighs family holiday. His nephew embracing the traditions of the family’s fishing heritage alongside also embracing The Leigh’s daughter; change and tradition finally meeting head on.
Mark Jenkins cleverly uses hand processed and aged 16mm film with a soundscape created solely in post-production. Ensuring the film has the aesthetic of vintage archive footage, clashing immediately and hauntingly with its modern location; using the film itself as a character in exploring tradition vs modernity.
There are moments in Bait where you feel no sound is needed. The stand alone images portraying and dissecting the challenges of coastal communities.
Bait seduces its audience with a style unlike anything else in modern cinema. A beautiful photographic study that washes over you with its salty and stark dissection of coastal life; a new film that feels like a long lost treasure of cinema, recently discovered wrapped in cloth in someones attic.