Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, Thomas Kretschmann
Run Time: 118 mins
Infinity Pool is a sci-fi horror written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg. The film is centred around a struggling writer, James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) who is on holiday at a resort in the fictional country of Li Tolqa with his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman). The super-exclusive resort is isolated from the rest of the country with a barbed wire fence, security guards patrolling its perimeter. Wealthy tourists are shuttled to and from the airport.
James and Em’s relationship is clearly strained, until Gabi (Mia Goth) approaches him and professes her love for his only novel published six years prior. Joined by Gabi’s husband Alban (Jalil Lespert), the four share dinner together and rent a car the next day to explore the countryside and head to a remote beach. After a drunken day out, James drives the group back and hits a native citizen. He is arrested and soon discovers the country’s eye-for-an-eye outlook on crime.
For the first forty minutes, Infinity Pool looked to be film of the year – an endlessly atmospheric, tense exploration of the human psyche and failed careers. It has a nightmarish quality to it with a satirical edge. There is then a plot point that introduces the theme of the doppelgänger, changing the film’s direction, which I didn’t fully get on board with. That is until the last half an hour or so with an electrifying standoff between passengers in a bus and a group that box them in and the film rip-roars to the end. The score by Tim Hecker is eerily effective and full of portent and the film is disorienting shot by Karim Hussain, an early montage of the resort shot at tilted angles is particularly breathtaking.
There’s certainly a ton to admire in Infinity Pool but it doesn’t fully work as Cronenberg’s ideas aren’t fully-fledged. The class satire isn’t fully explored, nor is the idea of the double fully clear in its execution. Cronenberg certainly crafts some arresting images though and the film has a suitably hallucinogenic quality.
Although I’ve been critical of Alexander Skarsgård in the past, his aloof and wooden acting style really suits the role here. Much has been touted of Mia Goth’s performance and along with her performance in Pearl (finally released in the UK last week), she continues to cement herself as one of the best horror actresses of her time. Cleopatra Coleman is also excellent as Em, who struggles to fully integrate with the other tourists’ way of life and Jalil Lespert makes for a slimy, charismatic screen presence. Another highlight is Thomas Krestchmann as a sadistic yet cooly calculated detective.
Although Infinity Pool doesn’t fully work with its muddled storytelling, Cronenberg’s ambition is to be admired. This is a fierce piece of work, with many standout images that are etched into my brain and memorable performances to boot. If Cronenberg can sustain his style and develop his storytelling, he will be a very exciting filmmaker.