Why does Mark Jenkin use black and white film which he develops himself? Is it because it looks old or suggests a shoestring budget or for aesthetic reasons?
This is a film set in Newlyn, Cornwall – a fishing town where tourism has grown. The Cornish characters have authentic accents and are local people, not professional actors. Mark Jenkin contrasts the visiting family who own the whole street with a fisherman and his brother whose mother’s house the middle-class pair now own and visit for holidays with their children.
The adults are poles apart in class and wealth. There are many differences, one shown by shots of the shopping the visitors bring with them – champagne in their refrigerator.
The well-off visiting youths don’t want to play pool with the pub landlady’s daughter. When the fisherman, Martin, parks in the wrong place, his car is clamped. Other visitors complain of being woken by the early start of the fishermen.
All this is shown in a style reminiscent of early Soviet filmmakers using montages of still shots, cutting between parallel events. It’s a poetic style, including beautiful shots of the sea. The soundtrack has a throbbing intensity, using low string sounds and other noises.
There is a lovely shot of Martin seen through the ribbed glass of a door.
Martin’s son is seeing the daughter of the couple from London, who bought the house that had been Martin’s mother’s. The wife feels sympathy for Martin, who is trying to save money to buy a boat.
I liked this film a lot, but not quite as much as I wanted to like it.
The narrative is sometimes unclear and there are a few shots that seem out of place. I don’t understand why a tragic event is just seen and then never alluded to again. It’s as if having set all the plot wheels in motion, Mark Jenkin didn’t know how to finish it.
Bait really impressed the film critic Mark Kermode and the film festival in Cannes, and has won several awards. It’s unusual, it brings out current problems and it shows a range of characters. It’s worth watching.
Volume 35 no 2 November / December 2020