Infinity Pool is the latest from the son of horror icon David Cronenberg, Brandon Cronenberg, who follows up his bold, incendiary feature Possessor with something just as bold and incendiary in this commentary on a midlife crisis gone horribly wrong for the super rich – or in this case; those who have married into the super rich and are woefully unprepared for their lifestyle, Alexander Skarsgård’s writer James Foster wouldn’t even call himself a writer anymore, he’s suffering writer’s block, married to Em, Cleopatra Coleman, who ended up with him despite her father’s warning of broke writers. They’re on holiday at an isolated island resort for Foster to get his mojo back – where he meets a seductive, mysterious fan – Mia Goth’s Gabi – who pulls him down a rabbit hole that will launch a series of hedonistic events that put The White Lotus to shame – making it seem like a CBBC show in comparison.
The male midlife crisis genre in a tourist resort for the ultra rich is something that has been a bit played out over years – you need only look at Michel Franco’s Sundown, or John Michael McDonagh’s The Forgiven, rich people on holiday, something bad happens – and the man’s life breaks down. It’s something that Cronenberg is instinctively aware of – one line of criticism, a review, directed at Foster told to him in a moment of deep shame – reveals his work to be the result of nepotism – Cronenberg perhaps, answering the critics of his own – the shoes of David Cronenberg are quite high to fill. Foster’s skill revels around leeching off the rich and famous, trying to fit in and you’re watching his pathetic attempts to do so being used to the advantage of his hosts: Gabi has him on a leash, metaphorically and literally – manipulating him without a second thought. Anxiety presented here is told through the perspective of Foster – his reaction to everything spiralling down around him – and the sense of unease and dread is rarely captured elsewhere.
This is a gross out movie, make no mistake – orgies, murders, death, resurrection – in other words, the best kind of movie – purposely provocative and purposely daring the audience to question where next. The sound – the sound! – is perfectly illustrated, everything guided to create a sense of constant unease and dread. Composer Tim Hecker makes your skin crawl with the score – bolder perhaps, than Possessor, again, keeping you questioning – there were directions where I thought this movie was going but it kept me interested enough to pull the rug out from under your feet on the word go: after the inciting event where the story really begins, Cronenberg knows what the audience is immediately thinking the final reveal will be and has the characters sit down and discuss the implications of that on their lives, as though nothing has just happened. It’s a big event treated with the abundance of class – lifechanging to Foster, ordinary to the people who he’s with – second nature, like part of the resort itself.
It’s unnerving in the way Cronenberg shows you how these people are so normal about it all – and part of that, in fact almost all of that – is down to the excellent Mia Goth, who uses her character to tell you who she is from the moment you meet her: an actor, whose role it is to deceive. What a last couple of year it’s been for Goth – but this might just be her best performance yet. I’d have to rewatch Possessor but I do think this might just be Cronenberg’s best movie yet. At the end of the day – regardless of whether or not it’s for you, though – you’ll take one thing away from Infinity Pool: by the time you’re done, never has it been made more perfectly clear that you’ll never talk to anyone you don’t know on holiday again.