Going on vacation doesn’t always help you relax, as we find out in this creepy 2023 Brandon Cronenberg movie, Infinity Pool.
It all begins when James Foster and his wife Em, surrounded by the luxury of a private resort in the rough heart of a violent African country (I suppose), befriend the mysterious Alban and his sweet young companion, Gabi.
This meeting is a source of personal pride for James, as they are among the few who appreciate his only book. Their compliments relieve him of the depression of having written nothing for years, living practically on the backs of his wife’s wealthy family.
Their new friends propose a trip to a nearby beach outside the resort to break that comfort bubble’s routine where every vacation day is the same as the last.
To overcome the boredom, they accept, even if they still know little about Alban and Gabi; but unfortunately, on the way back, while James is driving a vintage car, they hit and kill a passerby.
In panic, the group flees and takes refuge in their rooms, but the next day the police pick them up and take them to the station, interrogating them separately in a threatening manner.
The situation is simple, because of local law and traditions, the victim’s family members have the right to kill them in revenge, in a tribal ritual organized by the state.
However, since they are wealthy, they can alternatively pay to be cloned and watch as their copy is murdered.
The tremendous incident triggers something dark in James’s mind as he becomes increasingly morbidly obsessed with Alban and especially the sexy Gabi, who gladly reciprocates his attention.
Increasingly estranged from his wife, James will eventually lose in a perverse maze of death and violence, repeating in an endless cycle.
Law is not equal for everyone, if you can pay
When you can’t exactly describe the cinematic genre of what you’ve just seen while remaining intriguing until the last minute, it’s undoubtedly a sign that it was something deviating from the usual entertainment canons.
From the very first moments, we feel that thrill of something weird, which becomes increasingly distorted as time goes on until it completely breaks out of the dogmas of everyday reality while remaining tremendously believable in all its human and inhuman facets.
Of course, the strongest message that comes amidst the many impulses of this story is how differently the law works based on wealth, class, and social status; literally getting away with murder and torture as long as someone has the money to pay the bill and avoid death and prison.
Besides this horror metaphor is also the main character, an excellent and surreal Alexander Skarsgård, who is the classic writer with creative block; if not in doubt of never had creativity in the first place.
Everything revolves around him and his innumerable clones, so much so that at some point, we can’t really tell if who we are looking at is still the same man or just one of the many copies expensively paid to evade the law.
Our state of mind travels up and down like James’s psyche: from fear to doubt, through exaltation and sexual arousal, returning again to dark feelings of being useless and exploited by everyone.
A rainbow of emotions so different from sequence to sequence in this movie, it feels like watching different stories, yet always through this promising new director’s dreamlike, psychedelic style.
The insane madness of being free
As mentioned, Alexander Skarsgård‘s character is also definitely something the audience cannot and will not identify with.
A coward who rejects reality and deludes himself into thinking he has talent, living off the money of his wealthy wife, the naive Em, played by the beautiful Cleopatra Coleman.
If I have to make a criticism, perhaps the character could have been more in-depth and had more screen time since she steps aside halfway in the story and disappears from the general madness that takes over.
However, the heart of the movie lies in Skarsgård’s relationship with the dark and handsome Jalil Lespert, a seemingly smiling friend of Alban Bauer, although we can tell from a certain sparkle in his eyes that he is not telling us the whole story.
Even more exaggerated is the character played by an exceptional Mia Goth, who is undoubtedly the most destabilizing element in the story as Gabi Bauer.
What can be said about this girl? What is she really?
We could call her femme fatale or muse or simply the destructive, lawless force of nature embodied in the sweet eyes of what seems like the girl next door.
The weaker and more insecure James’ character becomes, the more powerful and unstoppable she becomes: a chain of cause and effect that evolves exponentially to an ending open to whatever interpretation you prefer.
I want to conclude by saying it clearly: Infinity Pool is a 2023 movie not for everyone, as I also read from many reviews that quickly demolish it without even making an effort to understand.
The gore element is powerful, as is the psychological and moral deterioration of the characters, who seem like an Olympus of little untouchable gods who revel like crazy in inflicting pain and humiliation.