Wednesday, August 01, 2007


The first movie I saw in Maryland yesterday was the constrained emotional thriller Knife in the Water (Nóz w wodzie, 1962),* a movie which pretends to rely on archetypes even as it reveals true characters; a movie that builds a violence of tension never truly dissipated by the violence in action. The movie begins as Krystyna and Andrzej drive down a rural lane in northern Poland on their way to a twenty-four hour sailing holiday. Shortly after taking over driving duties, Andrzej spies an assertive hitchhiker at the crossroads and attempts to scare him off by being equally assertive behind the wheel. The hitchhiker doesn't give. Thus, Andrzej loses the movie's first battle of wills, almost running down the cast's only other character before finally swerving. The toe-headed hitchhiker, an unidentified youth, is allowed a ride out of magnanimous spite, and he's taken as far as the couple's sailboat at the lake. Andrzej imagines the overnight sailing expedition will offer plenty of opportunities to replay their earlier game of chicken; he invites the youth along. On the water, Andrzej and Krystyna lose much of the frustrated type-A squabbling that characterized their road trip, and the three engage in a shifting dynamic of cat-and-mouse mundanity that smacks of ending badly from the very beginning. This movie looks great: actually shot on a boat in a lake, the characters are usually constrained with one another in the frame, awkwardly positioned fore or aft depending on which personality is feeling the most estranged. This is offered with a ho-hum nonchalance that is methodically belied by the exacting framing and environmental nods to the character's inner landscapes. And each member of this triangle is a character: motivated by personal competencies, and intolerances that shape the fits and vanities of their tightening interrelation. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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