BAIT (2009)


(director/writer: Mark Jenkin; cinematographer: Mark Jenkin; editor: Mark Jenkin; music: Mark Jenkin; cast: Morgan Val Baker (Husband), Georgia Ellery (Katie Leigh), Edward Rowe (Martin Ward), Giles King (Steven Ward), Mary Woodvine (Sandra Leigh), Simon Shepherd (Tim Leigh), Chloe Endean (Wenna Kowalski), Isaac Woodvine (Neil Ward); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Kate Byers, Linn Waite; Early Day Films; 2019-UK-black and white)

It’s endearing as a strangely stylized artsy indie.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Shot on monochrome in B/W and on a hand-cranked 16mm Bolex. The directorial debut of British filmmaker and photographer Mark Jenkin is an auspicious one.

It’s set in a picturesque Cornish fishing village invaded by tourists.The aggressive but taciturn Martin Ward (Edward Rowe, Cornish comedian) is a cove fisherman who is in a bitter dispute with his brother Steven (Giles King) over the bourgeois tourists overtaking his family’s traditional fishing village and taking away his livelihood. The siblings because of a decline in the fishing trade have been forced to sell their late father’s picturesque harbor-front cottage to wealthy Londoners Sandra and Tim (Mary Woodvine and Simon Shepherd) who stay there in the summer and use the loft to house tourists. Martin is pissed that the family boat is used by Steven as a sightseeing boat, leaving him without one, and that the newcomers have gutted the place and redecorated it with cheesy touristy fishing gear on the walls. He broods more when the newcomers are given his former parking spots and refuse to allow him parking. Martin hungers so much to be a fisherman, even without a boat, that he uses a net to catch sea bass on the surf, catches lobster with a single pot, and sells the small catch to local cafes. He aspires to one day buy a boat. Steven’s estranged nephew Neil (Isaac Woodvine) and the Leighs’ teenage daughter Katie (Georgia Ellery) hit it off romantically, so even if Neil, who would prefer to be a fisherman again, resists because he falls in with the London crowd.

It’s endearing as a strangely stylized artsy indie that builds on social tensions to a violent conclusion. It’s based on the old themes of traditional life clashing with modern life. All the sympathies are on the sides of those trying to protect their old way of life. The faults lie in how stiffly most of the characters get portrayed.