Description from dvd beaver:
When Andrzej (Niemczyk), a successful sportswriter on holiday with his wife, Christine (Umecka), picks up a hitchhiker (Malanowicz), the couple asks the young man (nameless throughout) to join them on a short boating excursion. Jealous of the blonde boy’s youth and looks, Andrzej boasts of his physical prowess, faulting his guest’s inexperience at sea. Tension between the men intensifies, with the pocket knife that represents the hitchhiker’s particular skills lending a continual suggestion of violence and sexuality to the goings-on. Things eventually do get violent.
Filmed in black and white, this film is extremely assured, concise, and telling in its characterizations. KNIFE IN THE WATER is also notable in the career of another Polish filmmaker, co-scenarist Jerzy Skolimowski, who had already begun to direct, but emerged internationally in 1982 with the offbeat MOONLIGHTING. Some would argue that KNIFE IN THE WATER is a more interesting movie than any Polanski made in the west after leaving his native land. Brilliantly told and well-acted, Polanski’s half tongue-in-cheek, lugubrious and sinister filmic style seemed quite refreshing at the time.
Excerpt from Criterion essay by Peter Cowie:
Knife in the Water, Polanski’s maiden feature would define his maverick status once and for all. Polansk’s personality stamps every frame. As one critic noted at the time: “The weapons are glances, words (very few and always exactly chosen). Polanski is a holy terror of intelligent restraint––detached, ironic, playful as a cat with a mouse, encompassing with ease his alternations of the deathly serious and the dead-pan comic.” One should not, however, forget the contribution of Jerzy Skolimowski, who worked on the screenplay and urged Polanski to compress the action into twenty-four hours A poet and dreamer, Skolimowski had enrolled at the Lodz Film School in 1960, on the personal recommendation of Wajda, and would go on to direct films that sketch with sharp humor and sensitivity his country’s makeup––films like Barrier (1966), Le Départ (1967), Deep End (1970), and Moonlighting (1982).