Beautiful and Tense
I can't give the images in this film enough praise. The black and white frames are often stark but always beautifully composed. Roman Polanski's first feature leaves no doubt why he's had such a long and succesful career. With most of the film taking place on a sailboat, he had to contend with vast amount of water and sky in many of the shots. That he kept finding unique ways of telling the story visually is a testament to Polanski's talents.
The story is a simple three-character drama of male egos. A couple drives to a marina to go sailing, and pick up a young hitchhiker on the way. We never learn his name, but he has the chutzpah to hitchhike by standing in the middle of the road. At the marina, the man ends up inviting the youth to go with them, and he ends up doing so.
The boy's knife represents the sublimated violence between the two men. It appears early, a mere token as each shows off to the other, only a threat in what it represents. The woman, a more easygoing sort, tries to play the peacemaker, but it doesn't matter in this contest of wills.
The whole film takes place over roughly 24 hours, and is very complete in its own little space. No other characters are needed. Even if the film didn't ring true, it would be worth seeing for its sheer beauty.
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