Infinity Pool, the most recent film from Brandon Cronenberg, is a twisted extended metaphor for the trappings of luxury and inner darkness we all harbour, with some graphic and artfully kaleidoscopic sex scenes thrown in for good measure. It is set on a fictional island that seems to be a pastiche of various locations around the globe that have been exploited by the super rich as they construct hyper-exclusive resorts for their own benefit.
The super rich in question are Em (Cleopatra Coleman) and James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) – a struggling one-hit-wonder novelist and his inexplicably wealthy wife. They are there to try and ignite James’ (Skarsgård) creative fire but seem uncomfortable in the beigeness of the hotel and uneasy about Indigenous La Tolqa islanders’ protests at the outsiders occupying their land. Their listless trajectory is interrupted by a raucous couple of fellow 1%-ers Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban (Jalil Lespert). Alban is an art dealer and Mia is an actress who claims to be a huge fan of James’ novel, which quickly wins him over and all four of them head off on an ill-advised day trip where they all drink far too much and fool around in the rugged countryside.
On their ride home the four of them commit an unfortunate crime, for which James is at fault. Together they decide the best course of action is to try and sweep it under the rug. The real problem comes when Em and James are hauled to jail the next day and informed that La Tolqan law requires those who commit a capital offence to be executed in a bizarre ritual where they are slaughtered by those most affected by the crime. However, in the interests of preserving the desirability of La Tolqa as a holiday destination, those wealthy enough can escape this fate with some science-assisted Deus Ex Machina.
Things spin out as James is quickly sucked into a cabal of other rich westerners who have paid the high (literal and metaphorical) price to wash away their guilt. The gap between James and Em widens as their lavish, sensual acts become more and more depraved – Cronenberg stripping back their humanity to reveal them as debauched animals dancing to the wicked tune of their ringmaster Gabi.
While it is an enjoyable film, I ultimately found it unnerving and reaching clumsily to establish a point that it had already made. The stand out is Goth’s performance as the captivatingly corrupted Gabi and her powerless puppet James, a departure from the usually strong silent Skarsgård. This film has a very watchable visceral quality to it that might appeal to some and disgust others – but at its core it has an interesting intellectual message and might prompt you to really rethink your next vacation plans.