The first thing you need to know about the 2023 movie Infinity Pool is that it’s pretentiously weird. This is an artsy, quirky, and highly moody style-over-substance movie failing to deliver an engaging story. It follows a couple’s vacation in a beautiful beach resort that soon turns into something completely different. The first act was intriguing but short with the messy and oftentimes psychedelic second act going on for seemingly forever. Only in the last ten minutes does the movie manages to tie up loose ends. Oddly enough, those last five minutes convinced me that we should talk about this movie. Mostly because under the surface it hides many interesting and thought-provoking concepts.
Ambiguous and open to interpretation, Infinity Pool can mean anything you want it to mean. I kept asking myself what was the point of this movie. What they were trying to say or were they just weird for weirdness’ sake? Something that wouldn’t be so strange considering that the director and writer of this movie is Brandon Cronenberg. He’s the son of David Cronenberg, the guy behind such hits as Scanners, The Fly, Crash, and A Dangerous Method. Infinity Pool is technically about the rich people’s problems, who go on these dream holidays and still feel dead inside. They’re searching for meaning in our capitalist, consumerist, and tribal system of values.
They turn to South American drug consumption (Ayahuasca), Southeast Asian sex tourism, and escapism looking for answers. They need something to feel alive again, something crazy, hedonistic, and dangerous. Well, drugs, sex, violence, murder, and ultimately, power, will sort that out in no time. These rich assholes want to keep pushing the limits of their experience and if money is not the limit, where is it exactly? The quirky storytelling and trippy visuals are there to show you how our protagonists feel during these life-changing experiences. We will be following James, one such individual as he descends into a downward spiral driven by basic instincts.
And although this sounds appealing, if you’re looking for coherent narratives you would be better off watching the real Basic Instinct. Actually, there are a number of movies with this same dynamic but different settings. Transsiberian and Force Majeure are just two examples. The Danish 2022 movie Speak No Evil also features a story about a couple going on a vacation and ending up in a whirlwind of events. What is it with these movies taking place in luxurious beach resorts? All of them are focused on these privileged upper-class douchebags looking for life-affirming and hedonistic experiences. The movies are also highlighting the stark difference between their lives and the lives of the staff working at the resort. With the obvious comment that the fences are there to protect the locals from tourists and not the other way around.
I guess White Lotus and Nine Perfect Strangers are not movies but Triangle of Sadness and Old definitely are. And if we add these life-affirming and hedonistic experiences we also get The Menu. All of these are quite posh and mainstream movies, so if you’re looking for more visceral, do check out German Paradise: Love and Greek Suntan. Of course, the Spanish subversive masterpiece The Platform explores the same issues but from a different setting. And French Titane shares the same transcendental imagery including nudity although it’s about a completely different subject. This was another reason why I wanted to talk about Infinity Pool, to recommend you all these similar movies.
Moving on, when it comes to graphic content, there’s exactly one fucked up scene and a couple of trippy nude scenes. Even the nudity doesn’t feel arousing but is somehow impotent and aesthetic more than anything else. At times the movie looks like a music video slowly transitioning back and forth from cheap arthouse to big-budgeted movie visuals. Alexander Skarsgård is another reason why you might want to check out Infinity Pool as he gave one hell of a performance. I feel that Mia Goth’s talents were wasted on a rather ambiguous and undefined character but she’s here too, fresh off the set of much better Pearl. And she was definitely the right choice for the role.
Two of them are a reason why a lot of people might decide to watch this movie despite fully knowing it might turn out boring and without a point. For you, I have to emphasize that, I might turn out boring and without a point for you. If you don’t like this sort of stuff that is. To be perfectly honest I was somewhere in the middle and it took me a couple of days to figure out what I think about this movie. Although the point will be painfully clear by the end of the it. Self-destruction is bad, mkay, you’re kind of killing your ego, mkay, because it seems like the ultimate hurdle to enlightenment, mkay, although it clearly isn’t, mkay?
Even if you get to be breastfed by Mia Goth at the end of it all. Actually, now, when I think about it… I also feel there are a lot of missed opportunities with the other elements of the movie. I want to say lazy writing but there was no writing at all. This seems like an easy way out. The filmmaker says I left it ambiguous and mysterious intentionally. And you can say that for the rest of the story. I’m not asking for an exposition dump, just a bit of context. Mostly because these are so fascinating and thought-provoking concepts.
The way how state of La Tolqa is willing to let this all go on in order to make money. Or how tourists use these poor countries as their playgrounds. Something that becomes obvious when you think of Thailand and the concept of sex tourism. Although if you have enough money you can get away with anything in developed countries same as in undeveloped. Ultimately, you can say that Infinity Pool also explores the corruption group pressure exerts over vulnerable individuals.
The group entices the individual with promises of freedom and ultimate sensory experiences thus taking away control from him. Control they maintain throughout both over him and themselves, as witnessed during the finale. Is there such a thing as free lunch or the price must be paid for everything in life? This is the question I leave you with fully knowing that you already know the answer. We just need to be reminded of it from time to time.
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Writer: Brandon Cronenberg
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, Thomas Kretschmann
Fun Facts: Brandon Cronenberg began developing the movie in 2019.