“I haven’t lost me temper yet!”

Martin Ward

Mark Jenkin’s debut utilises similar experimental techniques to his follow-up Enys Men yet it is not only more accessible in its storytelling but also more successful in tying together its cinematic idiosyncrasies with its themes. Bait follows an irascible fisherman without a boat in a small Cornish fishing village in economic turmoil as its industry gives way to seasonal tourism. It sounds like traditional Ken Loach fare, but Jenkin’s choices in cinematography shroud Bait in thick atmosphere. Shot on 16mm monochrome film with a vintage hand-cranked Bolex camera, the images are filled with strobing and scratchy imperfections, coupled with the slightly dream-like quality of post-synchcronised audio. The dichotomy between Bait’s modern setting and its anachronistic low fidelity reflects the friction between locals and the encroaching city folk, the medium elevating the dramatic tension. Structurally, Jenkin telegraphs early on that some form of violence and arrest must ensue, repeatedly splicing in a handful of flash-forward frames. However, Bait ends with a more poetic epilogue that is slightly less satisfying, but leaves the audience to draw out their own conclusion to the piece. This is the very best kind of experimental cinema that is purposeful with its exploration of the form rather than merely curious.