Film & TV Web Exclusives Film Reviews Muse

Review: Bait

Bait successfully captures troubled times in Britain like no other film, says James Hudson

Article Thumbnail

Image Credit: British Film Institute (BFI)

9/10
Director: Mark Jenkin
Starring: Edward Rowe, Mary Woodvine, Simon Shepard
Running time: 1hr 29mins
Rating: 15

Mark Jenkin’s Bait is a wonderful film. It is so because it is a masterful piece of cinema, crafted with the astute skill and rhythm of an intuitive filmmaker, and because it captures the feeling of our times like no other recent British film I have seen. Set in Cornwall, we witness a tale of struggle and loss between two forces that are seemingly at odds with each other: the growing tourism industry, inviting swathes of metropolitan folk and their “yah” teenage children to muddle around in pubs and smoke on stony beaches, and the increasingly diminished local fishing industry.

The key character in Bait is Martin, a through-and-through, Cornish fisherman who disagrees with his brother, Steven, over the use of their once fishing boat now turned 30-minute tour vessel. It seems that’s where the money is. Martin is staunchly opposed to this; in his view this is an act of betrayal. He is left to throw nets on the beach, hoping to catch fish when the tide comes in and plant lobster pots with the help of his nephew Neil who also appears to disagree with his father’s use of the boat. He uses the money he gets from selling his catch to the local pub, eaten by the tourists, to save up for a boat of his own. Martin is also battling a family who bought his former family home and are subletting rooms for tourists. When walking into his old home he sees the changes they have made, a gentrified culturally clinical take on a “cosy” fishing cottage – unsurprisingly, Martin’s disaffection is clear. Martin is a force of resistance; a not-so-young ‘angry-young-man’ who is determined to support himself through the means he thinks right and proper; fishing. Bait is fundamentally a story of incrementally increasing alienation in a Cornish community, a confrontation with change, and a particular emotional reaction in coming to terms with it.

Shot using a 16mm Bolex camera, in 4:3 aspect ratio, and all sound and dialogue recorded in post, for about 10 minutes it is quite disorientating. One could imagine it was made with equipment found in a car-boot sale and the film developed with almost deliberate imprecision –following later reading I found out the latter to be quite true, at one point the film has been marked by pollen as the door to the developing studio had been left open. Despite the ostensible technical handicaps, the film is beautiful, a scarred monochrome dream of someone looking back at the unfolding of time; a fuzzy memory that fades and distorts.

It does not feel gimmicky either which was a worry of mine before watching. Much of what we see and hear is what Martin feels, who is recollecting, remembering, pining after something that is being lost. The film is a replaying of his memory, with all its fuzz, stretch, and distortion left in the physical film itself. A parallel can be drawn between Martin and Mark Jenkin, the writer-director, who presumably is a film purist, pining for the physicality, a lust for the mud, of celluloid. Much of Bait is shot in close-ups, so everything feels constrained. There is also a significant amount of subliminal editing, weaving of events and time, building to the penultimate moment of tension or realisation; think the opening scene of Roeg’s, Don’t Look Now. The influence of Robert Bresson is also clear to see.

The sound design of this film is similarly rudimentary, but nonetheless impressive - as if it had been recorded by a kettle. The soundscape primarily exists of sounds of the everyday; footsteps, engines, cutting, swallowing, boiling, and the effect of this is great. There is a rhythm to sounds of the everyday that is almost hypnotic, almost primal; it is always leading towards dream-logic and tension. What is emphasised in both the images and sound in Bait is what is important, not what is said. Everything feels, every image is loaded and necessary in conjunction with the image coming before and after. Same with sound, and, of course, the silences.

Bait is a great film because it has captured the feeling of our times in Britain like no other film. In this sense it is a political film. It can be read in several different ways; class, neoliberalism, culture – what we have lost or feel we are losing. The murmuring of Brexit-babble can be heard on the radio in one scene. But that’s all it is, a murmuring, happening elsewhere. It is not engaged in a Loachian exercise of presenting you with clear-skied political polemic. In many ways it is a populist film in terms of its plot, one man versus unsurmountable fate, the battle of agency vs structure. I imagine Bait could be interpreted as an argument against tourism, and market-logic, though I don’t believe this is necessarily the case or where its impact lies.

Bait captures the unconscious feelings of anger, grief, and loss. It has hit a nerve because is portrays the feeling of a vague sense of inevitability, helplessness, through the lens of the human process of remembering. There is a clear division on the surface of the film, the events which we see, but underneath, the emotions, is where the great expression lies. It is a film that is unique in that it is primarily concerned with the effects of outside structure on the emotions whilst managing to avoid didacticism. It is a universal and personal story, about Cornwall; but it is also political because politics is personal. Politics is what we feel.

Editor's note: This film was screened at City Screen York.

You Might Also Like...

25 Comments

abc Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

Our academic pursuits, along with a range of extracurricular activities, help in honing a child's skills and ensuring that he/she grows to be a mature and responsible citizen.
top cbse school in greater noida
admission in cbse school 2020 greater noida
premium school in noida


Reply

sdfdgf Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

beetv apk

Reply

Anonymous Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

Ich möchte mehr darüber zu lesen. Prompt, welche Literatur zu studieren? 10.0.0.0.1

Reply

fdf Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

We offers end-to-end technical consultancy and know-how as well as know-why to broad spectrum of different requirements of broadcasting industry.

apple reseller in bhubaneswar

apple authorized service center in delhi

mobile news gathering solutions

radio station consultants in india

ipad air reseller in bhubaneswar

iMac reseller in kolkata

ipad reseller guwahati

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

You completed a number of nice points there. I did a search on the issue and found nearly all people will have the same opinion with your blog. passanger lifts

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

It is imperative that we read blog post very carefully. I am already done it and find that this post is really amazing. Zonnepanelen kopen

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today i find it finally. this post give me lots of advise it is very useful for me. Zonnepanelen installateurs

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

Hi to everybody, here everyone is sharing such knowledge, so it’s fastidious to see this site, and I used to visit this blog daily Zonnepanelen prijs

Reply

anee Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

Very efficiently written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts. This site seems to get a good amount of visitors Chapewerken

Reply

Anonymous Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

What is cinema for? To delight? To tell stories? To illuminate the rifts in this fractured world? By any of these measures, Bait is a triumph. It is powered by social tensions. In one corner: down-on-his-luck local fisherman Martin (Rowe on tragicomic form). In the other: the forces of gentrification as embodied by the Leighs, an out-of-towner family — reasonable mother (Mary Woodvine), smug father (Simon Shepherd), lusty daughter (Georgia Ellery), gormless son (Jowan Jacobs) — who bought 'Skipper's Cottage' from Martin and his estranged brother to rent out to holiday-makers. Full-Service SEO & Digital Marketing

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

This was incredibly an exquisite implementation of your ideas Zonnepanelen Lommel

Reply

anee Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

"Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info."Zwembad laten aanleggen

Reply

anee Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

"Yes i am totally agreed with this article and i just want say that this article is very nice and very informative article.I will make sure to be reading your blog more. You made a good point but I can't help but wonder, what about the other side? !!!!!!Thanks "Zwembad laten aanleggen

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

I wish more writers of this sort of substance would take the time you did to explore and compose so well. I am exceptionally awed with your vision and knowledge. Zwembad laten aanleggen

Reply

Anee Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

I'm glad I found this web site, I couldn't find any knowledge on this matter prior to.Also operate a site and if you are ever interested in doing some visitor writing for me if possible feel free to let me know, im always look for people to check out my web site Prijs zonnepanelen

Reply

anee Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

Thank you for the update, very nice site.. Zonnepanelen Limburg

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Zonnepanelen Limburg

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post. Zonnepanelen Antwerpen

Reply

anee Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

this is such a nice useful resource that you are supplying and also you meet the price of it away for forgive. I hero reward seeing websites that take at the value of supplying a setting useful resource for set wandering. it's far the primeval what goes on the order of comes almost about recurring.Zonnepanelen Antwerpen

Reply

anee Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

hey, your websites are truly suitable. I appreciate your movement. https://www.albagora.nl/

Reply

Joshua A. Price Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

This is one of the good articles you can find in the net explaining everything in detail regarding the topic. I thank you for taking your time sharing your thoughts and ideas to a lot of readers out there. loss prevention

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

You completed certain reliable points there. I did a search on the subject and found nearly all persons will agree with your blog. section township range

Reply

abhi Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

http://redboxtv.buzz

Reply

anshu Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

Redbox tv apk

Reply

seoexpert Posted on Sunday 26 Jan 2020

I am really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work. crt tv disposal

Reply

Leave a comment

Disclaimer: this page is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.