Infinity Pool (2023)
At its core, a clinical and cautionary tale, Cronenberg Jnr continues to impress, refusing to hide under the bushel of his father. Not for the first time in the last few months, we meet a couple of couples on holiday that may not be all that they seem. This is different gravy, however, starring now favourite screamer of choice Mia Goth (X, Pearl), Alexander Skarsgård (The Northman) and Cleopatra Coleman (Dopesick).
Possessor, whilst not his first effort, was my first experience of Brandon Cronenberg in 2020 and featured very highly on my films of the year, a singularly unique and uncomfortable story, told breathtakingly well and performed with panache. So my expectations for this were high.
Cronenberg seems to have been left after that thinking 'well, that went well, perhaps we broaden our horizons'. After what appeared at the beginning to be an episode of The White Lotus soon became something less familiar and ethereally challenging. Cronenberg is already known for his high concept auteurship, guaranteeing visual splendour, even if it often becomes a rhetorical (and sometimes literal) orgy of excess.
Triangle of Sadness did the critique of privilege much better, but we can see where the events on La Tolqa are leading us from very early on. If you have the money, you can do pretty much anything you desire on this fictional island run by a police state that doesn't object to the odd back-hander, yet retaining the façade of justice (seemingly) through cutting-edge technology.
If all of this sounds to you like the ramblings of incoherence, you wouldn't be alone.
Many have criticised this as needlessly complicated and nonsensical, a peacock preening project with little under the surface. Whether this conclusion is by lack of substance or understanding, only you can really decide, but for engagement this scores highly and is often glorious to look at. The performances are good, but everyone featured has done more impressive work elsewhere, even in the last twelve months if we're honest.
Horrifying, fantastical, perplexing and absurd, Cronenberg throws his hat in with gusto, but despite any superlatives, this is a noticeable step down from Possessor.