Infinity Pool (2023)

New clone, who dis

Infnity Pool’s screenplay is a howler. It’s utter nonsense. More to the point, it’s annoying nonsense because it doesn’t seem to think it’s nonsense. It carries itself as if it has something to say. This is the umpteenth movie of the past couple years attempting to take on the privilege of the ultra-rich and society’s wealth divide with ironic overtones: see Glass Onion and Triangle of Sadness and a bunch more. Infinity Pool is the most try-hard of these, and perhaps on paper the most scintillating, but it ends up an overcooked mess of half-baked ideas that collapses on itself.

The plot follows James (Alexander Skarsgard) and Em Foster (Cleopatra Coleman), a rich couple vacationing at an exclusive island resort catering to the upscale, where they connect with fellow couple Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban Bauer (Jalil Lespert). After James is involved in an accident that kills a local, he discovers the island’s sinister substitute for a legal system. In lieu of prison, he’s offered the chance to create a clone that can serve the sentence in his place. What first seems an absurd sci-fi concept intended as commentary on exploitation and a life without consequences for the wealthy quickly descends into empty swaggering: violence and elliptical nonsense and college freshman-level mindfuckery.

The attempts at satire or social commentary are lost in the muddled mess of mushy characters doing horrible things to each other. But nonsense can be fun, and this one crosses the fun threshold a few times. Director-writer Brandon Cronenberg indulges in a certain stylistic excess that gives the film a hallucinatory quality that echoes the incomprehensible descent into savagery. And there’s a scene involving Skarsgard pissing on his own clone that hits sublime levels of absurd depravity. (I swear the movie is more pretentious and less fun than I’m probably making it sound.) Maybe that’s what Cronenberg is going for – vulgarity so bananas you can’t look away. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough of this unhinged energy to sustain the movie or distract from the soggy script.

Infinity Pool is frequently quite colorful and hypnotic, but that’s not why it nearly gets a passing grade: it’s the two performances at the core of the film, Skarsgard and Goth. Skarsgard’s tense lead turn brings tremendous physicality to the wanton violence and cruelty his character inflicts and endures. Same goes for Goth; no matter how absurd the situations around her get, she remains deadpan and hilarious, spinning gibberish into sexiness and firecracker tension. Fucking electric. She has become destination programming by herself on the strength of this plus the title role of Pearl, my favorite movie performance the past few years. Both Skarsgard and Goth crank up Infinity Pool’s kooky intensity to the point it inches into artistry for moments at a time.

Two great performances and a bucket of style are almost enough to hang a movie on, even one this stupid. But I just can’t get there. The script is just too much of meaningless meltdown.

Is It Good?

Nearly Good (4/8)

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