Infinity Pool (2023)
January 30, 2023 8:48 AM - Subscribe

While staying at an isolated island resort, James (Alexander Skarsgård) and Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are enjoying a perfect vacation of pristine beaches, exceptional staff, and soaking up the sun. But guided by the seductive and mysterious Gabi (Mia Goth), they venture outside the resort grounds and find themselves in a culture filled with violence, hedonism, and untold horror. A tragic accident leaves them facing a zero tolerance policy for crime: either you'll be executed, or, if you're rich enough to afford it, you can watch yourself die instead.

Also starring Thomas Kretschmann, Amanda Brugel, John Ralston, Caroline Boulton, Jeff Ricketts, Jalil Lespert, Roderick Hill, Adam Boncz, Alan Katić, Alexandra Tóth.

Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Music by Tim Hecker. Shot on location in Budapest, Hungary and Šibenik, Croatia.

88% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Now playing in theaters. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (6 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is Branden Cronenberg's most cohesive, affecting film yet. Honestly, I like it considerably better than most of the last decade or so of his father's work. There's a surface-level you can enjoy it at in which rich people embrace depravity because the legal system is available for purchase to them. But for me, I think it likely has a more personal meaning to Cronenberg, as the film's protagonist worries he is a second-rate artist only enabled by nepotism and personal wealth. He's working through some stuff here about the rottenness of wealth as a personality centre, destroying part of yourself to find true transgression, and the way the superrich can compartmentalize unambiguous evil.

At the end of the film, James doesn't know where he's headed anymore. It's too late to go home, too dark where he was, and he's too far in to start again. He's trapped.

And it probably goes without saying, but Mia Goth is continuing to erupt onto the screen.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:54 AM on January 30, 2023 [5 favorites]

I heard that they screened the NC-17 version (actual cumshot) for the critics, which is kind of clever and kind of annoying.
posted by praemunire at 5:33 PM on January 30, 2023

My problem with this is basically the same as with Westworld: once the cloning machine is introduced we have no reason to care about any of the horrific violence that is inflicted by and on the characters. It immediately lowers any narrative tension almost to zero. And maybe that's an interesting idea to explore but it doesn't make for an interesting movie.
posted by xxx9038709992203 at 8:27 AM on January 31, 2023

once the cloning machine is introduced we have no reason to care about any of the horrific violence that is inflicted by and on the characters.

I mean, for one, the people they attack care. So there's that.

But really the whole last act of the film is James realizing this isn't all it seems cracked up to be and that he is killing his soul with this. At the end, he is drained with no idea where he even belongs anymore.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:11 PM on January 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

My anthropologist brain was on fire during this movie. First, the whole culture was just different enough - letters just enough off, slipping around hints of places - is this Central America, Malta, Eastern Europe? - to have the best sense of familiarity and not. The realness of the selling masks in the gift shop to people who will never understand the deep, culturally genetic meaning to the holiday, the myths, the marks. Then it transitioned into dripping with modern(-ish) Western occult symbolism, which brought to mind Kenneth Anger's films. (At first I thought it was purely Chaos style, but then it definitely dipped into Thelema/OTO, so by modern I mean 20th century versus, like, alchemical/Renaissance stuff.)

They were not kidding about the photosensitivity warnings, wow. The soundtrack and the visual tricks were both incredible at creating tension and physical reaction, at least to someone sensitive to vertigo.

(One of the things that did keep interrupting my seriousness was the Night Vale phrase 'Kill Your Double'. This country is definitely a place Cecil visited.)
posted by cobaltnine at 6:13 PM on February 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

I liked Possessor and Antiviral very much but was left a bit cold by this one, although I'll admit the performances are great, especially Skarsgård and Mia Goth. There were a few excellently creepy scenes (psychedelic doppleganger creation and tripping sexy sex, yay) and a couple of neat twists, like the round of all the doubles getting slaughtered. And yeah the strange occult culture was very neat at first, but got dropped as the movie focused elsewhere, and that elsewhere - the overall arc of James' seduction, drugged stupidity and extended degradation - felt kind of dull after a while. I didn't really care. By the time we got to the dog stuff I was bored.

This one didn't cohere for me into something interesting in the end, mostly because the story felt thin and the levels of meaning struck me as fairly shallow, including a relatively simplistic presentation of the depravity of the superrich. Cronenberg is an excellent craftsman, for sure, but this idea seemed a bit undercooked.
posted by mediareport at 3:32 PM on July 22, 2023

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