Every once in awhile, I like to dip my hooves into divergent waters. In the early days of the site, this was a common practice. I tackled all genres before eventually designating Random Reviews Incorporated as a sci-fi/horror haunt. Still, there are instances where you might catch me maundering outside of my comfort zone. This is one of those instances, although Knife in the Water would certainly appeal to fans of the darker side of Hollywood. After all, it's a Roman Polanski film. To narrow it down a bit, this is Polanski's first feature-length production, and it was the only picture he shot in his native tongue.
I'll level with you. I fell asleep watching Knife, and I wasn't too thrilled about having to watch it twice. The plot is markedly simple. A leisure-class couple invites a peripatetic wayfarer (I could just say "hitchhiker," but that wouldn't be very pompous, now would it?) to join them on their sailboat for the afternoon. The husband is an asshole. And there you have it, folks...that covers the entire 94-minute running time. The pace is enervated, the soundtrack is devoid of music and there isn't much dialogue to speak of. Yeah, I was probably too pooped to pop Knife into my DVD player, but if anyone deserves the lion's share of the blame for my heavy eyelids, it's Roman Polanski.
This is a boring movie. There is no other way of saying it. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, happens for 50 minutes solid. Tension mounts in the third act, and the ending will give you something to ponder, but I was already sapped by that point. On a positive note, the cast is competent. You learn a great deal about the characters from observing how they interact with one another. And I'd be lying if I told you that Jolanta Umecka's wet, naked curves didn't enhance my viewing experience tenfold (well, maybe ninefold). Why didn't her career take off? I gather that she lacked acting experience, but good heavens...look at her!
You need to have an appreciation for minimalist filmmaking to groove on Knife in the Water. Clearly, I don't. I don't have a wellspring of patience for this kind of flick. I don't have an aquifer of tolerance for...okay, I'm getting carried away with fancy words. But you get the point. Truth be told, I've never been giddy over Polanski's work. I thought that Rosemary's Baby was an exasperating drag. You heard me. Repulsion was cool, and I did enjoy The Ninth Gate. Plus, his attempted rape of a minor was totally underrated. It made Victor Salva's kid-diddling look amateurish by comparison.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 10:21 PM