Film Review – Bait (2019)

Martin (Edward Rowe) and Steven (Giles King) are brothers who see the world very differently. While Steven has transformed their fishing boat into a way to make money from tourists, Martin is adamant that he will never give up his way of life. However, with his town becoming more of a holiday destination for visitors from London and less like the place that they grew up in, Steven finds that his patience with the developing world around him is being tested.

Bait is last year’s surprising hit that won over critics and audiences alike who were getting increasingly bored with the wipe clean digital window that has become mainstream cinema over the past few years. Bait director and writer Mark Jenkin has clearly taken notice of this and so Bait feels like nothing the audience has ever seen – or at least nothing they would have seen without some serious digging. Shot on 16mm film with a Bolex camera, Bait becomes a varied mixture of the old and the new, making the film appear to be timeless, modern and old fashioned all at the same time. The grainy, black and white, 4:3 aspect ratio harks back to a simpler time where story rather than spectacle were the pull for cinema. However, being shot in modern day Cornwall, with its flickers of the present day that we take for granted, Bait gives the audience a reflection of ourselves and reminds the audience that although the subject matter may seem quaint and old fashioned like the sleepy fishing village in which it is set, the concerns and the issues are still very modern.

Everything in Bait feels a little disconnected, things such as the use of 16mm footage in a film set in the modern day can throw off its audience when they can clearly see that the film is set in the present day. Then there are little things such as the audio for the film having to be recorded separately. This also adds a jarring juxtaposition because although there is talk of tradition and values, the dialogue is more modern and adult then perhaps the audience may expect. The added audio also manages to tell the audience that they are watching a cast of characters that are given words to say, so the subjects raised in the film can be left up to the audience to decide their validity.

Bait is so unique that it’s surprising that it has taken off in the way that it has done. Perhaps those cinemagoers looking for something with a little less mainstream manufactured fare are starting to appreciate something more home grown.


Drama | UK, 2019 | 15 | 20th January 2020 (UK) | BFI Distribution | Dir. Mark Jenkin | Edward Rowe, Mary Woodvine, Giles King, Simon Shepherd, Georgia Ellery

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