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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Fishing stock siblings Martin and Steven Ward are at odds. While the former still scrapes together a living from selling his catch of fish and lobster door-to-door, his brother has succumbed to the tourist trade. To this end, he has repurposed their late father’s boat to take rowdy, cashed up tourists on sightseeing trips.
Martin’s sense of betrayal has been exacerbated by the sale of the family home to newcomers Tim and Sandra Leigh who have taken steps to modernise it. Now fishing nets have become chintzy decorations, the perfect accompaniment to a fridge stacked with prosecco. Arguments about quayside parking and the noise of early morning sailings at times threaten to erupt into physical violence in a refreshingly authentic depiction of tensions between locals and tourists in a once-thriving fishing village.
Cornish film-maker Mark Jenkin’s independent feature film is a thrillingly adventurous, richly textured, rough-hewn gem that looks like something that has been unsurfaced from another time. Shot with clockwork cameras on grainy 16mm film, which Jenkin hand-processed in his studio, Bait is both an impassioned tribute to Cornwall’s proud past, and a bracingly moving portrait of its troubled present and potential future.
The scratchy monochrome visuals are jumpy and jarring at times, yet add a dreamlike quality, whilst the post-synched speech has an alienating yet captivating theatricality that is well matched with the brooding atmosphere. The rest of the soundtrack rises and falls like the tide, with Jenkin’s own synth tunes interweaved throughout in a hypnotic rhythm that adds to the immersive storytelling experience. This is a strangely beautiful yet highly unconventional film that weaves itself into the uncomfortable spaces that exist between class and solidarity in modern British society.