Infinity Pool Review: Alexander Skarsgård And Mia Goth Are A Brilliant Pair In A Demented, Dizzying Satire

Infinity Pool is a literally dizzying cinematic experience that further twirls your brain around with an orgy of graphic content.

Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgard in Infinity Pool
(Image: © Neon)

If the last couple years can be taken as proper indication, filmmakers are sick of the ultra-rich, and they are letting it be known through their work. Some of the best cinema of the past year was designed to skewer the privileged and ridiculous lifestyles of multi-millionaires and billionaires – from Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion (a mystery-driven expose of wealthy morons), to Ruben Östlund’s Triangle Of Sadness (class warfare mixed with projectile vomiting), to Mark Mylod’s The Menu (a delicious eat-the-rich satire of haute cuisine).

The latest voice that has added to this growing choir is Brandon Cronenberg … and boy, is it very much his voice. It’s become clear through the writer/director’s first three films that he and his father, body horror legend David Cronenberg, share similar sensibilities towards the grotesque and obscene in their movies, and that boundary-pushing aesthetic is weaponized brilliantly in Infinity Pool, an extreme examination of the lawlessness of the affluent.

Infinity Pool

Mia Goth in Infinity Pool.

(Image credit: Neon)

Release Date: January 27, 2023
Directed By:
Brandon Cronenberg
Written By: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, Thomas Kretschmann, Amanda Brugel, John Ralston, Caroline Boulton, and Jeff Ricketts

No stranger to graphic cinema, Alexander Skarsgård stars as James Foster, an author six years removed from his first published novel and struggling with writer’s block. Supporting him through this creative drought is his publishing heiress wife, Em (Cleopatra Coleman), and together they go on a vacation to the fictional country of La Tolqa hoping that James can find some inspiration. The trip initially seems like a bust, but things turn around when the protagonist meets Gabi Bauer (Mia Goth), a fan of his book who recognizes him and wishes to get to know him better.

The next day, James, Em, Gabi and Gabi’s husband, Alban (Jalil Lespert), take an unauthorized trip away from the resort where they are staying for an afternoon and night of drinking on the beach. What starts as a fun experience devolves into horror, though, as the ride back, with James at the wheel of a borrowed car, is interrupted by a fatal accident. When James is arrested, he learns of the hardcore laws in La Tolqa that would see him sentenced to death for his crime – but he simultaneously learns of a unique loophole offered by the country that he can take advantage of… provided that he can pay.

Brandon Cronenberg has created a horrifying  world you can’t look away from.

Infinity Pool will best be first enjoyed if you’re not aware of the fantastic sci-fi hook that arrives at the end of Act One, but what can be said without spoilers is that it serves as a tremendous vehicle for the movie’s central thesis. Along with a hefty dose of soul corrosion, money offers James an explicit freedom from consequence in La Tolqa, and a journey to see exactly how far the rabbit hole goes with the idea opens doors to hedonistic insanity that never permits you to get off the edge of your seat.

Cronenberg’s screenplay is outfitted with terrific escalation and pacing, and, paired with the dazzling style, there’s an argument made that subtlety is overrated.

Infinity Pool goes way over the top, but it’s a perfect fit for the statement being made.

With spinning cinematography and flashing lights that seemingly cover the full color spectrum, Infinity Pool is a literally dizzying cinematic experience that further twirls your brain around with an orgy of graphic content on its way to driving home its commentary. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival prior to its wide theatrical release, the movie certainly makes your guts churn and drop your jaw – with intense and gratuitous depictions of violence and sex – but it’s all in service of effectively raising stakes and making its point. All of the outrageousness is counterbalanced by monstrous flippancy demonstrated by the characters, and it sharpens the satire.

Some are not going to be able to stomach it. If you couldn’t handle the overload of bodily fluids in Triangle of Sadness or the blood that pours in The Menu, you’re definitely not going to handle what Infinity Pool has to offer in a trip to the cinema. If, however, you experienced the extremes of those films with a giddy smile and an appreciation for the expressed sentiments, Brandon Cronenberg has served up an early-in-the-year treat for you.

Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth both deliver remarkable and daring performances.

Such an endeavor requires bold actors, and Brandon Cronenberg found a tremendous pair in Alexander Skarsgård and Mia Goth: two stars well-versed in cinematic sex and violence who make for a seductive and poisonous couple in Infinity Pool. Their chemistry together is successfully electric and dangerous, as Gabi lures James into an unimaginably dark world, and Skarsgård and Goth’s performances only become more impressive as the story plays out.

There is an under-the-surface darkness to James that we can see at the outset in the film, and Skarsgård both exposes it and cultivates it in brilliant ways over the course of the character’s arc – primarily through action and emotion over literal expression. The shifting balance of reticence and excitement in him is captivating, and it leads to a conclusion that is precisely where the protagonist needs to be left.

Gabi also smells of trouble from the outset, and she doesn’t take long to prove that read correct – but Mia Goth’s job past the film’s setup is hooking James on a leash and luring him into a mysterious and mad new world, and her turn is extraordinary. Saying too much would ruin the fun of seeing the performance evolve, but the legion of horror fans that Goth earned as lauding devotees in 2022 with X and Pearl will love every minute of her work here.

Following Antiviral and Possessor, Brandon Cronenberg has continued his streak of crafting visually arresting works that shock and stun with Infinity Pool. Like with swimming in the dead of winter, you have to brace for it, but it’s quite the experience when you dive in.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.