Brandon Cronenberg shows tourists lean into the excesses of sex and violence in a country where money can literally buy anything.
Brandon Cronenberg makes smart, radical, and bloody horror about body identity, media, and class relations – like his father David. ANTIVIRAL is fan cultures that inject themselves with the diseases of their favorite stars, POSSESSOR is about biological-digital identity theft. Brandon Cronenberg‘s new film INFINITY POOL is initially a satire about luxury resort tourism that is completely detached from the real social conditions of the travel destinations. “It‘s as if you‘re not actually visiting the country. you‘re visiting another dimension,“ Cronenberg said at the Sundance Festival. He talks about a “tourist nation across the world,“ but also “a worldwide nation of tourism.“
In one of these resorts, in a country that looks like Croatia, but has strange letters and even stranger customs, writer James (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are on vacation. He hopes for inspiration, she has money. A different couple, Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban (Jalil Lespert), invite them on a beach trip in the area. On the way back, James is behind the wheel of a rented road cruiser. He runs a man over and Gabi convinces him to flee. James is arrested, and the police explain the law to him: bloody vengeance must be committed, one of the man‘s sons will kill him, but within the framework of this tourism program and for a lot of money, there is the possibility of creating a physical and mental identical double who will be killed in his place. But does the double really die, or is the surviving James his own doppelgänger?
That is the kick-off to a wild, brutal, and at times very funny ride across excessive orgies, in which Mia Goth‘s character Gabi becomes the demonic sex and fun leader of a tourist transgression cult. Tourism in INFINITY POOL is the complete loss of identity. James becomes a cog in an all-devouring killing and fun machine. Gabi‘s cult believes they‘re anti-bourgeois, while her and her followers are protected by money and privileges. There‘s not much left of James, on the other hand there‘s far too much of him. Adepts of George Bataille‘s transgression theory, in which the French philosopher sees transgressions and the excess of sex and quasi-death experiences as a kind of existential experience, will find these ideas here, but they are turned on their head. The seemingly risk-free taboo breach isn‘t an existential experience, but just “a little fun on vacation,“ as Gabi says in the film.
Cronenberg directs in a more relaxed and confident way than in his first films, which doesn‘t mean that there‘s a lack of excessive violence and explicit sex. However, the radical scenes offer more than shock value here. INFINITY POOL might not have the most complex message, but Cronenberg brings it across in a vivid and precise way.
Translation: Elinor Lewy
Kanada/Frankreich/Ungarn 2023, 117 min
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mystery
Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Author: Brandon Cronenberg
DOP: Karim Hussain
Montage: James Vandewater
Music: Tim Hecker
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Thomas Kretschmann, Cleopatra Coleman, Amanda Brugel
- OV Original version
- OmU Original with German subtitles
- OmeU Original with English subtitles
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