October 30, 1963 [Knife in the Water]

The woman, the man, and the young man in Knife in the Water live separately from each other--experience the sailboat trip differently, taste everything differently; but they're brought together in tension--anticipation, maybe, something ready to give way--and the camera watches them so closely on that little boat we can't help but move even closer--until the camera climbs the mast because somebody breaks a foolish rule and whistles, and has to be punished--maybe it was me, whistling softly under my breath at the woman, her bikini poking her little belly out at me, her short black hair and upturned nose cute as a button, her eyes--maybe amused, maybe not--watching the two males watching her.

The Polish voices are soft and somehow ironic, making me pay attention--and again it's the woman's face I watch: She doesn't smile, and makes sense, interested in the meals and the sun, getting work done with tackle and teakettle, handy on deck and efficient below. Everything about her is honest, easy as you please--even while the men try to figure out what to do--one mistake after another, the movie a kind of thriller in no hurry at all, so deliberately steady it decides not to be a thriller after all, but a small instructive vacation with some peril--there is a knife, after all, and they are on the water--granting the three of them a kind of audition for the rest of their lives, to see if they're suited for their roles.

I want to like the young man--but he is not quite ready to stay on the boat--and I want to hate the older man--but he ends up in his bathing suit on shore, shivering a little. Only the woman remains true in my head, so that I can lean a little toward her, glancing more than once (when she's not looking) at the way her pert eyeglasses point up in a semblance of surprise as she figures us out.


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