Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Writer: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman
Directed by Brandon Cronenberg, Infinity Pool tells the story of a couple, James Foster (Alexander Skarsgard) and Em Foster (Cleopatra Coleman), as they’re on vacation searching for inspiration for James’ next novel. Thanks to Em, they’re a wealthy and well-off couple, and there’s not much more to them than that. During their stay, they meet Gabi Bauer (Mia Goth) and Alban Bauer (Jalil Lespert), which is the worst mistake of their life. Gabi is immediately infatuated with James, and he also takes a shine to her.
After hanging out with the couple outside of their vacation zone, James accidentally hits a person from the island with their car, leading him to be arrested and charged with death. However, certain people who vacation on the island can escape death entirely. There is a stipulation within their justice system where they can have your body replicated and put in your place if you can pay the fees. Here, our story transcends into madness and becomes a story of actions with no consequences.
Infinity Pool has moments I very much enjoyed, but it’s more style over substance, and that’s what sat with me for a long time after watching it. Infinity Pool’s central idea is brilliantly executed — the concept of privilege and how people use it to take advantage of the system that is built for them. This becomes a gateway to doing all kinds of vile and evil things. It’s always gearing up for more and more, but the payoff to that “more” doesn’t come. We’re left with these people doing horrible things and not having to pay the consequences. Is that okay to leave it as that? Yes, absolutely! However, we’ve seen stories like this time and time again. As I said, it’s a vivid example of a brilliant idea. Yes, we get a psychedelic orgy, but for some reason, I felt like I needed more.
Brandon Cronenberg’s stylized version of privilege, especially rich white privilege, is something to be admired. Cronenberg is becoming a talented filmmaker who builds upon ideas and entries within body horror, especially from his father’s legacy, David Cronenberg (director of Videodrome, Crimes of the Future, Scanners.) Brandon Cronenberg crafts them it’s his form of storytelling, building upon the legacy of body horror in a techno-futuristic way. However, it’s disappointing. Cronenberg’s other films, Possessor and Antiviral, get that body horror techno-future that we crave, but it’s all style and nothing behind it.
Last but certainly not least, Mia Goth’s and Alexander Skarsgard’s performances are arresting and impressive. Both level their strengths within their genre works and slam them down on the table here. Alexander Skarsgard’s character is very much an everyman who stumbles upon a situation he THINKS he wants. Yet it turns out that he fucked around and found out a little too close to the sun. Skarsgard does a ton with a nothing character like James. He brings an intense and wide-eyed perspective that lets him use his face and body to convey his emotions.
Goth is the queen of genre films such as these. As Gabi, she’s maniacal, manipulative, cruel, intense, and absolutely bonkers and does it effortlessly. She is the moment and carries this film on her back. The one to look out for is Cleopatra Coleman, a magnificent addition to this cast that was unfortunately wasted. I found myself craving more of her presence within the film, especially when it came to taming James’ actions. Mia Goth steals the show, but Cleopatra Coleman is who I was looking for in the rearview mirror.
Infinity Pool is a film that wants you to keep paying, but there’s no payoff. Even when you get to the end, you’ll ask, “What was that all for?” The privilege and the grotesque are all there, yet there are other films that have triumphed with this idea and have messages far more profound and far uglier than this.
While I’m excited to see Cronenberg’s next feature film, Infinity Pool leaves me with things I very much enjoyed. However, there are things I wish I could have enjoyed more in the deep end of the pool. I wanted to know how far the depths of this film could go. Could it go any deeper than what we saw on the surface? I think we’ll have to see that Director’s Cut of the film to be able to dig deep inside this film. For now… I’m hoping his next feature comes with that technohorror that we’ll all eat up with glee.