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  • Benjamin May

Infinity Pool (2023) Review

James Foster is a one-novel author struggling with writer's block. He and his wife Em are vacationing at a resort on the idyllic, isolated isle of Li Tolqa, where their marital woes cause constant arguments. After meeting Gabi, a fan of his novel, and her husband Alban, James and Em venture outside the boundaries of the resort, where the two couples enjoy a drunken day of sunbathing. However, their dream vacation soon turns into a nightmare after an accident occurs, plunging James into a dark underworld of debauchery and excess. As he battles a twisted justice system, a bizarre cult and his own deepest fears, will James escape, or be trapped on the island ad infinitum?

Written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, 'Infinity Pool' is an ambitious, headily atmospheric psychological horror that doesn't quite go the distance. Initially intriguing, then frustrating, and finally exasperating, the screenplay tries to balance too many different elements, failing at nearly all of them. Though the film tries to explore some interesting themes of identity, morality and escapism, they are not fully developed or resolved; coming across as rather half-baked.

Additionally, the surreal seediness of the first act- which draws one in brilliantly- does not sit well with the rote science fiction and action-oriented elements of the last two. A cloning sub-plot is both poorly explained and executed, and the denouement is anticlimactic and cliched. Cronenberg's characterisation is rather shallow, to boot, and the main character is largely unsympathetic. James is neither particularly likable nor relatable, and his motivations and actions are often illogical and inconsistent.

With 'Infinity Pool', Cronenberg has created a surreal and distinct world, but fails to do anything interesting with it narratively. Conversely, the film is a visual delight, boasting striking cinematography from Karim Hussain, who uses analog methods in a digital medium to create its disturbing, dreamlike visual style. Hussain also employs unusual framing and lenses to express James' emotional turmoil, as well as the duality between the paradise-like resort and the hellish underworld of the island. 'Infinity Pool' is stunning, with vibrant colours, rich textures and grand compositions drawing the viewer into Cronenberg's horrific environment.

Furthermore, Tim Hecker's score adds to the film's eerie and unsettling atmosphere, and James Vandewater's editing is continuously adept. 'Infinity Pool' also boasts a fine central performance from Alexander Skarsgård, who makes the most out of Cronenberg's scant characterisation of James. Mia Goth also does strong work as the seductive and mysterious Gabi, though her tendency for overacting- which made her so appealing in 'X' and 'Pearl'- hampers the impact of her performance somewhat.

A disappointing waste of potential that leaves the viewer unsatisfied and confused, 'Infinity Pool' could- and probably should- have been much better than it is. Despite some interesting ideas and a strong first act, Cronenberg's narrative is unengaging and familiar. Though the cinematography is consistently alluring, the film is not, and the commendable efforts of Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth do little to keep one's interest held. In the end, perhaps the best one can say about 'Infinity Pool' is that it doesn't go on forever.


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