Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool

Generally, it is a bad idea to vacation in despotic, dystopian regimes, because of their disregard for civil liberties, but at least you can usually also count on them to be corrupt, as well. James Foster is about to discover how true that is. It is a hard, trippy lesson to learn in Brandon Croneberg’s Infinity Pool, which opens Friday in theaters.

Most synopses of
Infinity Pool go something like: “a couple checks into a luxury resort and weird things happen.” That sounds like a feature-film addition to the budding “strange hotel” genre represented by The White Lotus and The Resort, but the mysterious stuff really isn’t due to the gated resort. The chaos all starts when Foster and his wife Em venture outside the hotel’s barbed wire fortifications, with Gabi and Alban, a couple who claim to know the fictional repressive island of La Tolqa well.

Unfortunately, their outing leads to a whole lot of trouble. Ironically, this further strains the Fosters’ already rocky marriage, pushing him towards the trouble-making Gabi. She knows how to stoke his ego, claiming to have read his poorly selling novel, while also stimulating his carnal desires.

The big Macguffin in
Infinity Pool is pretty original and highly provocative. Frankly, it is revealed fairly early and offers grist for a good deal of speculation. However, it is also dressed up with a lot of lurid debauchery, which sometimes overwhelms the smart stuff (which is in there). Let’s put it this way: the audience sees way more of Foster’s fluids than we need to. If you don’t follow that, it is just as well for you. Eventually, the depravities undermine the narrative, which ends with a whimper rather than the clever summation the inventive premise deserves.

Nevertheless, Mia Goth makes such an intensely wild-eyed genre femme fatale as Gabi, she will scare husbands with wandering eyes into renewed fidelity. (Seriously, concerned wives should take their hound dog husbands to this film). As Alban, Jalil Lespert is Goth’s perfect complement and maybe even more disconcerting. In a weird way, the broad shouldered but maddeningly aloof Alexander Skarsgard aptly suits the shallow Foster. Of course, Thomas Krestchmann is totally in his comfort zone playing the sinister police inspector, Thresh.

Infinity Pool
is an example of a film that probably could have been a lot more, if it had been a little less. It’s a lot, sometimes in the worst way, but it is also new and different and very much its own film. That is saying a lot these days. It works to a surprising extent, if you can handle its extremes. Recommended for fans of the Cronenbergs and edgy adult genre films, Infinity Pool opens Friday (1/27) in New York, including the AMC Lincoln Square.