Bait (2019)

Bait (2019)

A gem of old-school filmmaking that builds with a palpable, paranoid anxiety



United Kingdom
Edward Rowe, Georgia Ellery, Giles King
89 min


Inspiring for budding filmmakers like me who can only afford the most outdated cameras in the world. Discouraging for budding filmmakers like me who don't have a fraction of Mark Jenkin's skill.

What it's about

Tensions rise between the citizens of a seaside Cornish village and the tourists who have started renting out space and disrupting the local economy.

The take

Shot on a hand-cranked silent camera with all the sound and dialogue added in during post, Bait immediately stands out as a film that appears lost in time. With the visual texture and slightly displaced audio of an independent film made during Hollywood's infancy, the movie manages to convey its character and class conflicts with an additional air of surreality, even in its simplest sequences of shots. But writer/director/cinematographer/editor Mark Jenkin doesn't approach this project with an ironic or flippant attitude. Through the most fundamental techniques of an art form that's constantly changing, he crafts a story about the inevitability of change and those who really stand to lose the most from the passage of time.

What stands out

You could take any frame from Bait and convince anybody that it's a film made anywhere between 1920 and 1970. But it's the editing—the strange way it plays with perspective and time—that allows the movie to transcend its analog aesthetic, and that really proves Jenkin's skill as a craftsman. Early on in the film, we begin to see images out of order and we aren't sure how real they're supposed to be. Jenkin successfully creates a sense of subjectivity that only keeps growing alongside its narrative—developing into a suggestion that these issues of displacement and discrimination tackled in the film have always occurred and will always occur so long as human beings share space.

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