I’m sure in some way, shape, or form, we’ve had the thought that if we just cloned ourselves, we could get everything done. One could go to work for you, do simple house chores, etc., because there are only 24 hours in a day. Thankfully, most of us think about this in a playful context. Leave it to writer/director Brandon Cronenberg to stretch the rubberband of this premise so far that it will make you wench for the inevitable snapback. Now imagine the same doubling scenario, but referring to consequences. What if when you did anything remotely illegal, you could have your clone stand in for the punishment?
Infinity Pool is an exercise that looks inside the psyche of humans once they are freed from the ramifications of their actions. The results are what one would expect – a big mess of debaucherous activities coupled with a conquest of unrelenting hedonism. Cronenberg’s style pushes this premise to the maximum complete with gore (some bodily fluids), hallucinogenic orgies, and a lense turned to the indulgences of the affluent. There’s so much the film wants to say and show the audience. Sometimes, it feels like one theme is fighting for room against the other. That being said, Cronenberg’s flair for the eccentric makes Infinity Pool an entertaining experience.
James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) is an author that has seen better days, both professionally and mentally. He and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) have gone to a luxury resort named Li Tolqa to somehow cure his writer's block. James’ first book, The Variable Sheath, didn’t exactly land on the best sellers list, and his marriage is starting to fall apart at the seams. While at the resort, James meets Gabi (Mia Goth), who proclaims that she’s a massive fan of his book. She and her partner Alban (Jalil Lespert) invite the Fosters for dinner.
Things take an unfortunate turn when James accidentally runs a farmer over. The foursome leaves this person for dead. In a country that is strict regarding laws, that’s not a good thing. When the police find James and bring him in, a detective named Iral Thresh (Thomas Kretschmann) gives him a proposal. There seems to be a visitor program where you can clone yourself only for them to withstand your punishment. That clone would retain all of your memories. That sounds like an easy choice for James to make, right?
In how Cronenberg presents the story, there’s a moral caveat. How far would you go down the depravity spectrum if you knew you could never get in trouble for it? The answer, as far as Infinity Pool goes, is that there is no bottom. Especially if you are well off. The film places the viewer inside a fast-paced mash of murder, robbery, and sex. James’s vulnerability puts him inside a collection of people who have taken full advantage of this system. We slowly watch as he slips into the hivemind who enjoy partaking in these events as if the resort is their mini-Purge headquarters.
Much of Infinity Pool is centered around the ever-evolving relationship between James and Gabi. Goth provides the character with a sensuality that intoxicates James in a spell, and at the same time, she can exhibit a ruthless edge. It’s a tornado that rips through the narrative, and Skarsgård’s scared attentiveness plays into things perfectly. How far can you truly sift through a world of darkness before you can’t even recognize yourself? The quick hits of distorted faces shown in the folklore of the masks within the resorts give us an insight. It is almost like a twisted flip on death and rebirth.
Perhaps James is looking for absolution in all the wrong places. Cronenberg plays with this notion and proves that a collective of people are waiting to pray on that. The lengths human nature can go should impress and frighten us simultaneously. Infinity Pool opts to show us the horror of it all.