Thoughts on Knife in the Water
The action is showcased as convulsive, bringing together two or more characters into a vague conflict where both characters are detached from one another. Frustration builds as he characters dig themselves deeper into their own desires thus limiting the connectedness.
The film’s simple script is the solid cornerstone on which the lush character sketches that progress the film’s action are built. The characters are static, and stale lacking conviction. They seem empty to me.
The relationships between the old man, young man, and woman are similar to the relationships between a father, son, and mother, respectively. In the scene in which the woman explains her view of the old and young man to the young man she acts as a teacher or translator. The spirit of the old man’s offer to the boy to join him and his wife exists throughout the film and is father-like. He attempts to teach the "youth" about sailing, symbolic to the old man of life, throughout the film. As the narrative progresses, the characters repeatedly corner themselves into situations that are dead ends and return to their static states. There are no resolutions in the film.
Polanski’s makes a claim through the film's open ended closing that surreal urges like competition, deceit, and lust are intrinsic in the human condition and that an action on an urge must be understood as a choice if one is to progress in life.