Infinity Pool (2023) Review | The Film Magazine
Infinity Pool (2023)
Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Author: Brandon Cronenberg
Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert
Fresh off the plane from her Sundance debut, Brandon Cronenberg leads Alexander Skarsgård by a leather collar around his neck. Mia Goth is there, also dressed in leather, in a black dress. The three are smiling but a little muddy from the overland journey – which fits the haunting odyssey the trio will take us on. Discussion ranges from the use of a “goo” in film to the logistics of filming an orgy scene (which Cronenberg assures is much more mechanical than it looks on screen). As we walk through AMC’s double doors, we’re greeted by masked men in neat red suits. On each of the seats, a cutout of Mia Goth scrawls her signature I’m A Woman Pushed Beyond Her Breaking Point. The face grimaces us. They’re glued to a small wooden stick to wave in the air like an infinitely crazier show of Rocky Horror. Infinity pool is that kind of experience.
Possessor director Brandon Cronenberg’s latest film asks the same question that has dominated the big screen for years: What happens when the ultra-rich realize they are living a life without consequences? In this version, James (Alexander Skarsgård) and Em Foster (Cleopatra Coleman) travel to the fictional country of La Tolqa. After meeting two reckless regulars, Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban (Jalil Lespert), they embark on a journey that ends in a fatal car accident. James soon discovers that the island’s “brutal” culture involves a tradition of execution, or, for lucky visitors, a body duplication process in which the doppelganger is executed in the culprit’s place. Of course, James is introduced to a dark underground society of extreme violence and hedonism.
While the film’s premise isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, it still functions as a triumph on the front lines of visual and experimental storytelling. Cronenberg does not shy away from any necessary grotesque and at times falls into pure fodder for humiliation. The seven-minute drug-infested orgy scene alone makes this movie worth at least a watch. Where many recent satires of upper-class debauchery rely on familiar tropes and old jokes (see The Menu), Infinity Pool has the decency to offer us a trip into a world of sex-obsessed mania.
Of course, Infinity Pool is further strengthened by the predictably strong performances of Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth.
Less than a year ago, Skarsgård graced the big screen as the chiseled Viking warrior Amleth, a character driven by revenge and a penchant for blood, in Robert Eggers’ The Northman. Unforgettably, Amleth displays his godlike strength as he duels his father’s killer at the side of an active volcano (spitting lava and all). As James Foster, Skarsgård is a pathetic man, beaten to his hands and knees by a privileged life that hasn’t lived up to his expectations. Characterized by a feeble attempt at writing novels, James lives off his girlfriend’s penny and lounges around the resort. Even the onslaught of needless violence can only rouse James from his apathetic slumber momentarily until he’s back on the hunt. Skarsgård perfectly portrays the emaciated spiral of a man with no goals and no ambition to boost his own life.
At the other end of the spectrum might be Mia Goth. In an era of zany Final Girls, Mia Goth rules them all. From a distraught actress in “Pearl” to the sacrilegious bonafide star in “X” to her latest version of a bored (to the point of insanity) housewife, Goth has pretty/scary on guard. Her saccharine seduction of James in the first few minutes of the film is immediately unsettling, and every time she appears on screen we’re instantly jittery. She has a sinister, silent rage that builds throughout the film, and it’s largely thanks to Goth’s performance that Infinity Pool feels so new.
Although the film exudes a chaotic freshness in terms of acting and visuals, the world building leaves a lot to be desired. We’re told in the first few minutes that La Tolqa is a brutal country with insane traditions and an outdated understanding of the law. We even get a shot of the mutilated masks, which are essential to the film’s marketing. But the lore stops here. Aside from the core technology of body duplication, La Tolqan culture is largely left to the imagination. Unfortunately, we never learn the origins of the crazy masks or how the locals live their lives outside of a few clips.
Infinity Pool is the kind of movie you should see exactly once. With its technical strengths and a few breathtaking sequences, it makes for an evening of extravagant fun. The film won’t go down in history as one of the greatest of all time, but it promises to surprise, disturb and at times amuse you.
Emi is a freshman MFA candidate at The New School in New York City. She loves writing, a good rom-com and all things pop culture.
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