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'Infinity Pool' doesn't reach greatness, but it is visually arresting

Courtesy of NEON Topic

An idea and a sense of style will get you pretty far. Not all the way, but pretty far.

Infinity Pool is director Brandon Cronenberg’s third feature, premiering just a few days ago at the Sundance Film Festival and out in theaters this week. He’s the son of the famed Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, and it’s safe to say he’s picked up a little bit of his father’s delightful perversity.

Movies and TV about rich people at resorts seem to be in vogue right now, and that’s where we begin, with a writer named James, played by Alexander Skarsgård, and his wife on an island, having brunch and cocktails along the beach. He’s approached by Mia Goth, who says she’s a huge fan, and who invites the couple to dinner with her and her Swiss husband.

Before long, the four leave the resort, a big no-no since the island is supposedly extremely dangerous, especially for tourists. That night, after a lot of drinking, they drive back to the resort and James hits and kills a pedestrian. The island’s law allows for the dead man’s son to exact revenge by killing James himself, but there’s an alternative: they can create an exact double of James, complete with his memories, and that clone can die instead. For a hefty price.

This plunges James and us into an increasingly chaotic spiral, as we see the effects of essentially watching yourself be murdered, and we learn there’s more to Mia Goth and her Swiss husband than we might have thought. Skarsgård is fantastic as James unravels, and Goth is even better as she becomes more and more monstrous.

Things do get a little bit silly toward the end, and it ultimately feels like Cronenberg just wasn’t entirely sure where it was all going. But the movie is also visually arresting as we enter drug-induced hazes and things get darker and darker as James descends into a world of abuse and, well, self-abuse. Infinity Pool may not reach greatness, but when you’ve got Cronenberg’s knack for tension and creating an ominous aura, you don’t always have to stick the landing.

Infinity Pool is in theaters January 27th.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.