SIMMERING tensions reach boiling point in a story marked by its contrasts amid changing times.

Bait takes viewers to the heart of a Cornish harbour village where fisherman Martin (Edward Rowe) is struggling to make ends meet while the influx of London money, tourists and stag parties dramatically alter the community’s way of life.

Martin’s response to the newcomers has also created a rift with his brother Steven while they are both still coming to terms with the fact their family home has become a holiday spot and Airbnb.

And divisions have deepened as Steven has re-purposed their fishing boat for tourist day trips, threatening Martin’s fading livelihood.

Frustration and resentment are ever present in Mark Jenkin’s striking debut film – with anger and confrontation just below the surface – and as a new voice in modern cinema he is definitely one to watch.

The ‘battle’ between old and new is accentuated with the way Bait is shot – on a vintage 16mm camera using monochrome Kodak stock.

It may sound pretentious but it really works for the story’s feel and tone.

And although the BFI supported film’s grainy footage takes a moment to adjust to, it does not detract from the story at all.

It is easy to feel immersed in this small village, step in the characters’ shoes and take their struggles to heart. The atmosphere is such that some scenes feel like something out of a western before the tension builds to tragic consequences.

That is largely thanks to a powerful and central performance by Rowe as Martin, who is short tempered, fiercely traditional and suspicious of newcomers but generous and loyal.

Some of the other actors are a bit wooden and the ropey ending lacks the impact it could have had but Martin’s struggle is entirely convincing and moving.

RATING: 7/10