Warning: this article contains a plot synopsis and major spoilers for Infinity Pool (2023).
Infinity Pool is just as wild and unpredictable as its trailers suggest. The film, which serves as writer-director Brandon Cronenberg’s follow-up to his 2020 feature Possessor, is an unchecked descent into a dark, Faustian alternate reality where the world’s richest tourists truly don’t have to worry about ever facing the consequences of their worst actions.
The film follows James (Alexander Skarsgård) and Em Foster (Cleopatra Coleman), a rich couple who decide to take a vacation to a fictional foreign country where they’re advised never to leave the boundaries of their resort. The couple has gone there in the hopes that James may finally be able to find some inspiration for his second novel and, therefore, stop living solely off the money Em gets from her rich publisher father. Unfortunately, when a fellow vacationing couple, Alban (Jalil Lespert) and Gabi Bauer (Mia Goth), convince James and Em to leave the resort with them, things quickly go awry.
On the way back from their ill-advised excursion, James accidentally runs over and kills an Indigenous boy. The next morning he and Em are arrested and briefly held in a decrepit, crumbling government building. While there, James learns that the punishment for manslaughter in Infinity Pool’s fictional foreign country is death. However, James himself is not executed for his crimes. Instead, Em’s wealth allows him to participate in a federal program that’s granted only to the country’s tourists — one in which James allows an identical physical copy of himself to be made and then executed in his place.
When he returns to his and Em’s resort, James realizes that he’s not the only person present who has participated in Infinity Pool’s strange cloning process. Gabi and Alban both did years ago as well, and after engaging in an illicit night of crime with them and their rich friends, James charges headfirst down a nightmarish path of hedonism and debauchery that’s impossible to turn back from. His increasingly erratic behavior not only isolates him from Em, who understandably flies back home to the U.S. the first chance she gets, but it also leaves him totally unprepared for Infinity Pool’s surreal third act.
The film’s final section sees James realize that, despite engaging in several drug-fueled orgies and nights of crime with him, Gabi and her friends don’t actually care about him. Unfortunately, when he attempts to put an end to their escapades by secretly flying back home, he’s stopped on his way out of the country by a gun-toting Gabi and her friends.
Goth, who seems to have reached a whole new level of insane on-screen transcendence over the course of the past year, chews up and spits out every one of her lines in Infinity Pool — but never more so than when she forces James to walk down the road in front of her and Alban’s car while she reads horrible reviews of his first book out loud to him.
In the film’s final major sequence, Gabi demands that James “complete [his] transformation” by beating a double of himself, whom she refers to as “the dog,” to death. Despite briefly trying to resist, James ends up doing just that, too. The act leaves him curled up and sobbing like a child — a metaphor that’s made literal when Gabi offers him a moment of comfort by wrapping her arms around him and breastfeeding him (yes, literally).
Infinity Pool then ends with Gabi, Alban, and the rest of their friends all casually flying back to their homes as if nothing bad or unusual had happened on their trip. Unbeknownst to them, James stays behind. He sneaks his way back onto the grounds of the film’s closed-down central resort and sits in the rain while the island’s waves lap ferociously against its shores. As far as final images go, Infinity Pool’s last shot of James sitting somberly in the middle of a rainstorm is both fittingly nihilistic and darkly humorous.
Regardless of how effective the film’s overall story may or may not be, it’s also the perfect way for Infinity Pool to end. For a film that’s all about how the world’s elite are allowed to live consequence-free lifestyles, it makes a lot of sense that Skarsgård’s James, whose wealth comes entirely from his wife’s father, isn’t able to shake himself free of Infinity Pool’s sinful adventures the same way that Gabi, Alban, and the rest of their bourgeoisie friends can. Only real devils get to party in hell and emerge unburnt.
Infinity Pool is now playing in theaters.
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