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Live Free or Die Gård
My first Cronenberg fils. And though Nepo Babies discourse is the order of the day, I’m not tempted to ding him for not being his dad. If anything, the anxieties of privilege in Infinity Pool feel pro forma, as if Cron Jr. thinks it’s expected he grapple with such concerns.
Alexander Skarsgård’s James Foster has written one (barely read) novel and, early on, sheepishly laughs off the fact that his comes-from-money wife, Em (Cleopatra Coleman), is his patron. She minds, but not really. There’s clearly something about her hot hubby always saying he’s going to write something, and then not, that acts as a sadist’s aphrodisiac.
But that leaves him creatively blue-balled. And he minds. Though it takes Mia Goth’s Gabi — an actress who specializes in a performing technique where she pretends to not want what she actually does (ooo, the ouroboros-iness of it all!) — to loose his seed of disruptive artistry. Literally. During a graphic masturbation scene in which a Skarsgård stunt cock (one presumes, though given the onscreen proclivities of that particular acting clan, who’s to know for sure?) is jerked to seaside-soaking completion.
The locale is the fictional resort island of La Tolqa, shot in sickly sheens by cinematographer Karim Hussain, and laid out by Cron the Younger as a gilded cage in which the visiting rich carouse while, just past the barbed wire perimeter, the nation’s indigenous suffer. The tepid haves/have-nots satire promised by the initial scenes, which culminate with Foster hit-and-running a local, gets upended after he is arrested and given a choice: Be executed by one of his victim’s family members in line with La Tolqa’s eye-for-an-eye traditions, or…well, let’s just say I was not expecting Infinity Pool to become an acid-trippy riff on Philip Roth’s Operation Shylock.
Props for that deftly executed plot twist, in addition to the doom-laden synth score by Tim Hecker and a terrifying dream setpiece that plays like a deleted scene from Smile. Both Skarsgård and Goth go expectedly full-bore, though I was less and less interested in their gonzo hysterics as the film went on. Maybe putting the engorged-penis-emerging-from-inflamed-nipple sequence before the breast-suckling pieta climax created too much of an expectation that the craziness would only escalate. As is, Infinity Pool, true to its title, ebbs to a non-point.
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