Dir.: Brandon Cronenberg; Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lesbert; Canada/Croatia/Hungary 2023, 117 min.
The new sub-genre “Eat the Rich” gets another addition with Brandon Cronenberg’s latest – an overblown potboiler that sees the filthy avoid a chance for redemption. Overlong, with a nearly two-hour running time, Infinity Pool oozes bodily fluids, and a proper sex-orgy – but alas, fails miserably when it comes to the plotting.
Suffering from longterm writers’ block, author James Foster (Skarsgard) takes his wife Em (Coleman), who happens to be the daughter of Foster’s publisher, on a luxury holiday to the impoverished fictional island of Latoka, where the wealthy live it up in a gated paradise. Em and James meet Gabi (Goth) and her husband Alban (Lesbert), the latter couching his vacuous personality in a shroud of enigma. In contrast Gabi is a blood-thirsty seductress who decides to torture the miserable James. On an expedition outside their gilded cage Gabi’s dangerous driving kills a local farmer. Unfortunately, the draconian ‘zero tolerance’ laws of Latoka make provision for the man’s relative to enforce – and enact – the death penalty.
But an inventive loophole allows for the Chief of the Police to line his pockets by offering to clone the perpetrators, allowing them to escape scot-free before the relatives get to exact their bloody revenge on their stand-ins. As such, James sees his “body double’ being slaughtered before his very eyes by the farmer’s son. From then on everything happens in overdrive, with Gabi and the rest of the cloned un-dead tormenting James. Voyeurism and the male gaze triumphs in the tame and disappointing plot resolution. James and Gabi are convincing, but the rest of the characters are predictable in a sensationalist and empty narrative which telegraphs every development taking away the suspense.
Half-way through, “Daddy Issues” are mentioned, possibly in reference to Brandon Cronenberg (43) being one of the “Nepo-Babies”, forced to fight for recognition in the shadow of an over-baring parent: in his case his father David.
DoP Karim Hussain, who worked on Possessor, tries hard to find an original angle on the aesthetics – not easy because Infinity Pool feels rather old hat despite a promising premise. AS
IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE FROM 24 MARCH 2023