Film Journal 2023: Infinity Pool

Film Journal 2023: Infinity Pool
Directed by Brandon Cronenberg

Is this officially continuing the eat the rich trend from 2022? In part, although I’m still mulling over the fact that the main character, played by Alexander Skarsgard is actually an impoverished writer who “married” into money. The characters that surround him and the vacation resort him and his wife travel to in order to find inspiration for his book however? Money.

Early on in the film we are given a portrait of this resort as being isolated from the world that exists outside its gates. Outside the gates is where the citizens of this city live. As long as the rich travellers ignore this world they can retain their bubble. It’s when these two worlds collide that this bubble threatens to burst. It is precisely this point of contact the Director, the younger of the Cronenbergs, is looking to examine and explore.

If you have seen Possessor you know his penchant for telling his story using strange and pychadelic visual sequences. This is a way of getting inside the heads of the characters, a way of pulling out the internal battles waging within so as to say something about it. We see much of this on display here, although I found this story to be more accessible and straight forward on that front, for better or for worse. One of the key interests here is the emphasis Cronenberg gives to that internal battle within, playing around with serious questions about the nature of man. Who are we truly when the veil is pulled back, and how does that relate to the controlling systems that surround us. What is it that our innate creature ultimately desires. Mileage might vary on how well he formulates these questions and affords them a resolution, or at least a solid platform on which to ponder them from. His distinct visual style I think will also isolate some and compell others. But I do think the ideas here are ambitious and worthwhile.

I will say that something here kept me at a bit of a distance. The power of Possessor was that it demanded a lot of processing and brain power to unpack. And the more I thought about it and dissected it the more compelling the film was. Given that this is slightly less demanding I find myself with less to process and less desire to linger with it and think about it further, which unsettled my sense of just how strong the film was as a whole. I would be interested to see how a rewatch might reformulate that, but one suspsiciton that I have towards that end is that I had a hard time connecting to Skarsgard’s character. Goth is great of course, but it is Skarsgard who is meant to carry the films thematic force. Part of it is that he is written as a sort of flat, one note persona. Someone whom we meet in the absence of inspiration, and as the story unfolds we end up sort of doubling down on this aspect of his persona. There just wasn’t a whole lot of range on display, leaving me somewhat at a distance.

Still enjoyable though, and worth watching if you are fan of the younger Cronenbergs work. Be forewarned- this gets more than a bit out there with its sensibilities and subject matter, so it definitely won’t be for everyone

Published by davetcourt

I am a 40 something Canadian with a passion for theology, film, reading writing and travel.

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