Friday 20 September 2019

Film: 'Bait'

Way off the beaten track, this one, a black & white film which may not be easy to find in cinemas, though positive notices are snowballing and screenings are widening. Word around was good so it hooked me in to give it a go.
It's specifically unusual in that it's filmed as if it had been made in the 1920s or earlier - scratchy, jumpy visuals in square-screen ratio. It was filmed firstly without sound, then the dialogue and sound effects were added later, lending it a strange sense of detachment. 

Despite this early film-making feel and appearance the setting is contemporary. 
In a Cornwall village which formerly thrived on fishing, but no longer since the lone surviving fisherman (Edward Rowe, above) has had the fishing boat permanently purloined by his brother into a tourist boat, leaving him reduced to having to cast a long, wide net on the pebble beach to catch any fish trapped when the tide comes in. With the help of a young villager he ekes out a modest living, when friction develops with regard to his right to park his car. Tension arises between him and, in particular, a better-to-do residential couple, with the constant threat of fists flying.

The film uses an odd timeline, with many strands left at the end up in the air, unexplained. I did myself feel a certain frustration at it not making sense, a sensation not at all common for me, but I did wonder what it was all about - particularly after one fatal accident which was left suspended. And why was it shot in this early-cinema style in the first place? Was the director, Mark Jenkin, cocking a snook at modern film-making methods and wished to demonstrate the advantages of keeping it simple and honest? I just don't know.  
The story itself is a modest one and I doubt if the film - no, I know - would have attracted the increasing attention it's now getting if it hadn't been for its retro look.  

A curiosity, then, which is not without some merit, though I'd hardly put it in the class of a must-see film.............6.

(IMDb....................7.8 / Rott. Toms.......not reviewed)


  1. Just for the fact that it isn't like anything else out there, I'd like to see it.

    1. Just for being the oddity it is is good enough reason to at least give it a try, Bob. Whether you will or won't share the same small degree of exasperation which I felt is an open question.