Knife in the Water

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Polanski's first feature, a model of economic, imaginative film-making which, in many ways, he has hardly improved upon since. The story is simplicity itself: a couple destined for a yachting weekend pick up a hitch-hiker, and during the apparently relaxing period of sport and rest, allegiances shift, frustrations bubble up to the surface, and dangerous emotional games are played. Like much of Polanski's later work, it deals with humiliation, sexuality, aggression and absurdity; but what makes the film so satisfying is the tenderness and straightforward nature of his approach. With just three actors, a boat, and a huge expanse of water, he and script-writer Jerzy Skolimowski milk the situation for all it's worth, rarely descending into dramatic contrivance, but managing to heap up the tension and ambiguities.

Release details

Rated: PG
Duration: 94 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Roman Polanski
Screenwriter: Roman Polanski, Jerzy Skolimowski, Jakub Goldberg
Cast: Leon Niemczyk
Jolanta Umecka
Zygmunt Malanowicz
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