Infinity Pool is the third film directed by David Cronenberg’s son, sometimes referred to as Brandon. The story takes place at a luxury resort called La Tolqa (tolka det hur ni vill), “somewhere in Europe”, where James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are enjoying their holidays. James is a writer who wrote a book that “nobody read”. Enter
extremely annoying mysterious, and seductive Gabi (Mia Goth), who claims to be a massive fan of his book, and her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert). The latter couple encourages James and Em to step outside the box, meaning going outside the resort limits, which is not allowed. James runs over a pedestrian and is hence in deep shit.
The penal system is severe at the resort, but the island detective Thresh (THomas KREtScHmannn explains that there is a way out. James can agree to have himself cloned and let the clone be executed, but he would have to watch it. After he does, James is introduced to a group of people who have previously utilized the same way out and now live a life of unbridled passion where they can live out their darkest desires. Since James seemed compelled by watching his clone die (as opposed to Em), it makes sense that he would enjoy this “lifestyle”, however unstylish and devoid of life it might appear.
Infinity Pool or Drool?
What we have here is yet another “the rich are terrible and amoral” tale, and Infinity Pool seems content with that conclusion as the end. Even more questionable is the fact that it uses that facile deduction as an excuse to revel in blood and gore, which renders the filmmakers as immoral as the characters they depict. I’ve been critical towards Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness, but it should be pointed out that Östlund’s analysis goes far deeper than Cronenberg’s, particularly in the third act when the rich people are at the mercy of Abigail (Dolly de Leon). In this film, the stinky rich are the sole target, and any complexities are washed away by the blood on display.
There are few things that irritate me more than glib attempts at satire where the spectator is invited to feel superior to the characters on screen, morally and otherwise. Infinity Pool is a prime example of this, and there are several reviews that testify to that. The thespians do what they can with the material. Alexander Skarsgård actually manages to inject some humanity into his character. Mia Goth seems to be willing to throw herself into anything. While one can admire her guts, her performance here comes off as unhinged, but the way the role is underwritten does her no favour. A final reveal is unnecessary and contains information that any discerning viewer would have grasped way earlier.
I was not a fan of Possessor (2020) either. The first feature didn’t go viral enough for me to catch it. The film has received mixed reviews, which will no doubt be called “polarizing” by its fans, but mixed is the apt term. That goes for the film as well. It’s an uneasy mix of disparate elements that don’t cohere on any level. As someone who largely regards cinema as a visual and sonic art form, I’ve recently grown increasingly irritated by bad scriptwriting. (Nope, Nightmare Alley, Babylon) There are far too many films nowadays that seem to be built on an initial “cool idea”, which is not sufficiently developed. Infinity Pool adds to the many culprits of this disease.
I have no idea what the cure is for this virus. Something Antiviral? Who knows?
Seen in the Berlinale Special section. For a different view of the film, visit the Infinity Poole.