Knife in the Water (1962)

















Roman Polanski is both a famous and infamous director. His personal life is filled with unpleasantries and scandal and his movies are classic. He is the director of such works as "Chinatown"; the horror classic "Rosemary's Baby"; the more modern, star-filled and decidedly unfunny "Carnage"; and the devastating Holocaust movie "The Pianist". His debut film seems faded and outdated now, but "Knife in the Water" remains fairly impactful movie, if a bit irksome.
Polanski himself had a hand in transferring the movie to DVD form and demanded that this movie be impossible to fast forward—he wants you to see the whole thing.
The story is fairly simple: a couple who are going sailing almost run over a young man who is hitchhiking and feel guilty so they give him a ride to the lake. The husband, Andrzej, immediately doesn't like this young man who seems to favor and eccentric view on life. Andrzej is a much more straight forward character while this young man has an ethereal quality about him.
Krystyna is this wife and she is much more receptive to this young man and she convinces her husband to let him tag along with them as they go out boating.
The young man is coerced into being a deck hand once out on the water and seems less than appreciative towards the couple's hospitality.
Now that they're on the water, things start to go sour. The male egos clash like male rams and it's clear that they start to fight over the wife, who seems oblivious to their testosterone filled verbal wars.
The water is their prison and soon weather and bad navigation force the unhappy trio to spend the night on the water.
The young man is tired of this situation (he remains mysteriously unnamed for the whole film) and tries to convince Andrzej to turn back; but to no avail.
"Knife in the Water" has some interesting moments, the likes of which influence other directors, namely James Cameron and M. Night Shyamalan; but it also has some moments that feel drawn out and overly thought-out. It's like the script wanted to be so effective in the creation of tension and suspense that it sidestepped all reality on the way. I can't see this situation actually unfolding in the real life.
It's a good debut from Polanski but it's not his best work.
You have to keep in mind that this film limits itself by the number of characters and the setting. Polanski stuck himself on a boat with three characters and tried to make a very interesting full-length movie and for that he deserves credit.
The ending may not be what you are expecting and the drama is actually fairly pacific, all-in-all I kind of wanted to use a fast-forward button that didn't work.


Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4

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