Image from article titled Infinity Pool Review: Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth Go Wild

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that’s a bit perfect infinity poolwritten and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, makes its debut just as the topic of “nepo babies” (those given an unfair career advantage through family connections) is a feverish trending topic. It’s not entirely unreasonable to question who gets the keys to our collective culture ship, but in the case of David Cronenberg and his son, Brandon, it’s clear that ever since Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach began writing piano melodies like his father, Johann Sebastian Has there been a more exciting father-son dynasty in the arts?

For his third feature, Cronenberg the Younger doesn’t so much imitate his father’s style as he expands on it. With infinity poolcompared to Cronenberg the Old’s good but not great future crimes, you could even say that he is perfecting it. In his previous movies, antiviral Y OwnerAnd even more so with his latest, Brandon relies on whatever mysterious genetic mutations spark his fascination with body horror, social paranoia, sexual deviance in a group setting, and the counterintuitive allure of self-destruction. If you’ve seen the 1996 David Cronenberg movie Crash, probably the most extreme movie to his credit, then Brandon’s new one is for you.

infinity pool (named for elegantly designed pools with a vanishing edge, often close to an ocean, so from certain angles they give the illusion of going on forever) is set in a posh resort where emotionally distant married couple James ( Alexander Skarsgård) and Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are on vacation. At first this suggests that the film will be a condemnation of the elite class and how they don’t realize how petty their problems are, like triangle of sadness. But Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner, literally inundated with vomit and feces, is average compared to what’s about to happen here.

James is a frustrated author. He married into wealth. He can’t arm himself for a follow-up book and is delighted when he meets a fan at the resort. Gabi (Mia Goth) invites him to dinner with her husband, Alban (Jalil Lespert), to which he accepts, upsetting Em because it’s the same place she said she didn’t want to go.

At a cringey Chinese restaurant (not a lot of Chinese people among the waitstaff), they plan an excursion outside the fenced-in tourist section of whatever unnamed Instagram-ready paradise they’re in. The journey gets weird (and features a surprisingly frank and spirited sexual act in extreme close-up) and then bloody when James accidentally runs over an islander in their borrowed car. He wants to stay and find help, but the others know that the law in these parts is incredibly strict, so they flee.

The next day, James is interrogated and realizes that he must be executed for his crime. However, if he pays a fee, a “double” can be manufactured that can die in his place. Is this code for some luckless local who’ll dress in James’ clothing and face the penalty? No, it means a sentient human duplicate with an awareness of death will be created and then killed by the victim’s young son.

Infinity Pool Trailer #1 (2023)

This is strange, certainly, but we’re just getting started. Much of Infinity Pool’s strength comes from how it dives completely into unexpected and unnerving territory. It truly cannonballs into the deep end when James joins a group of veterans versed in the local style of crime and punishment. An agreeable dose of Philip K. Dick (or dead ringers) is added when we are asked which version of which character we are looking at. Of course, we’re all on a journey on this crazy vacation called life, but to see it presented so metaphorically (and in gorgeous settings and trendy interiors) makes infinity pool a winner.

The film does not shy away from physical and emotional violence. There are some times when it may be necessary to shield your eyes from the blood on the screen. But the haunting aspects of the film are the ones that endured. Everyone, even the most balanced person, dances in self-destructive behavior. How else can we explain Wendy’s Baconator? This impulse has been well explored in film and literature, but what Cronenberg has done here spins the centrifuge to such an extent that we come face to face with the most fundamental elements of him. And you may not like what you see.

(infinity pool will be released in theaters on January 27)

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