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  • Gareth Crook

Infinity Pool (2023) - 6/10

James (Alexander Skarsgård) and Em (Cleopatra Coleman, great names) are on holiday. There’s palm trees, sunshine and a palpable unease as the score pounds and the camera twists uncomfortably in the opening sequence. It immediately sets the tone that this film is out to push some buttons. James and Em seem slightly ill suited, drifting apart. Maybe the holiday can help that, but despite the beautiful sun-kissed luxury, relaxation isn’t on the cards. James is a writer, not that successful, looking for inspiration. He seems a bit shallow. A bit like the resort, which has a dark underbelly that’s truthfully never really explored. There’s a lot of surface style, hedonistic tension, danger. Danger that first appears as Gabi (Mia Goth) convinces them to join her on a day trip with her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert) outside the resorts heavily fortified gates, into the unknown outside. It is a little predictable. The foreboding score telegraphing the narrative, but it’s still gripping. With an odd pacing that stumbles in places, before damning events draw a line in the sand and the tension ramps up. Goth and Lespert are great, subtly menacing. Leading the unsuspecting James and Em into a horror they’re ill equipped to endure. On the way back from their day out. James finds himself at the mercy of a cold police official named Thresh (Thomas Kretschmann), who is explaining how his day trip has turned into a nightmare that’s found him guilty of murder and how he now needs to pay up in a convoluted scheme to appease the law and maintain tourist interests. It’s not an understatement to say it’s a bit bonkers and things start to go a bit sci-fi with body doubles and ritualistic retribution, but it plays well with the questions it raises and despite spiralling in unlikely directions, it just about manages to stay on the rails. My biggest issue with it though, is the further down this spiral we go with James, the less we connect with him. To the point that everything feels too detached, there’s no jeopardy. James falls in with a crowd of rich toffs lead by Gabi, hell bent on depravity, without the fear of consequence. But there will be consequence. It’s not a bad film. It’s rather good in places. Visually arresting, pretty well acted, wonderfully scored, it’s just a little too indulgent. Maybe not a total shock from Brandon Cronenberg, son of David. I’ve no problem with extreme cinema and bit of body horror, but it needs purpose or you end up with crap like Hostel. This doesn’t slip that far, but it teeters close. It just is what it is and never becomes more than the sum of its parts. A shame really as it felt like there was a much better film here and despite kinda hating it, I also quite liked it. That detachment we feel in James feels intentional. I suspect I might need some time to decide quite how I feel about Infinity Pool, but despite its flaws, it’s certainly worth a watch. Oh and the titles are gorgeous.



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