Review | Infinity Pool | 2023
Imagine Claire Denis' Stars at Noon but with some fucked up kinky sex and you have some notion of what you're walking into when you go see Brandon Cronenberg's latest feature, Infinity Pool.
Upon meeting a mysterious fan named Gabby (Mia Goth) who encourages them to sneak off with her and her husband, but when a tragic accident turns James into an unwitting murderer, he discovers the country's dark secret; the punishment for almost every crime is death. But to engender goodwill with wealthier nations, the tiny country offers to clone foreign convicts and put their clones to death - for a steep price. As he digs deeper - he unearths a strange group of foreign tourists connected by a shared traumatic experience of having witnessed their own deaths - and found it so sexually alluring that they continue to chase that high over and over again.
It's a darkly fascinating film, one rife with criticisms of western colonialism and the way in which poor countries whose economies thrive on tourist dollars are often forced to endure vulgar westerners running roughshod over their cultures. While the film certainly favors aesthetics over theme, Cronenberg crafts something that is as horrifying as it is intoxicating. Goth is just such a magnetic presence, even at her character's most annoying. I loved every unhinged moment and Goth commands the screen at every turn.
While it's hard not to wish that the film ultimately had more to say with such an incisive thematic palate at hand, Infinity Pool is nonetheless hard to shake. In an era when studio product is becoming increasingly homogenized, this feels like a jolt to the system, a truly unique and uncompromising vision that aims for the fences and finds horror on foreign shores in ways that isn't orientalist, instead placing the blame directly on the tourists who find both beauty and darkness their quest for adventure at the expense of the poor. It's a wild ride, and one well worth taking.