‘Infinity Pool’ Character: James, Explained: Why Were Gabi And Her Friends So Interested In James?

Imagine a world where your actions have no consequences and your imagination can run amok, even at the cost of other people’s lives. Brandon Cronenberg’s 2023 psychological thriller “Infinity Pool” shows the truest extent of how diabolical humans can be when their sins can be paid off with money and their likenesses are punished for their crimes. Author James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) arrives at the fictional country of Li Tolqa with his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) to seek inspiration for his new book when a freak accident teaches him about the strange law of the country. Over the duration of the movie, a woman named Gabi Bauer (Mia Goth) tears away James’s morality and humanity to create a monster who performs horrid criminal acts before leaving him as a shell to suffer the impact of his crimes inside the prison of his own mind.


Spoilers Ahead

Why Were Gabi And Her Friends So Interested In James? 

If “Squid Game,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” and “Hunger Games” have shown anything, rich people bored with their daily lives often try out the sport of hunting people for fun because of the sick, sadistic pleasure of watching another human scream and beg for their life. In the seaside country of Li Tolqa, Gabi and her coterie of rich friends find easy prey in the writer James Foster and enjoy slowly stripping him of all his humanity and reducing him into a husk of a man—but it’s actually possible because of James himself. From the start, the hedonistic pleasure seekers saw James as a child in a man’s body who needed to be stripped down into a babbling infant to become a plaything for the wealthy, bored, and immoral freaks.


James was a bad author—there’s no kinder way to put this—and his only claim to wealth was his rich wife Em, the daughter of a media mogul, and he rode the waves of his wife’s bank balance to the good life. However, James was a man of few morals, and the sight of the mysterious and attractive Gabi Bauer all but made him want to take his wedding ring off. Gabi, a cunning and cruel shrew, read James like a book (not the dumpster fire he wrote) and knew all the crevices in his questionable morality to play him like a fiddle. She even tested out her theory to see if he’d be loyal to the woman on whom he depends for everything by quietly pleasuring him, and he stood there with a shocked expression on his face. Devoid of talents or skills and even the wealth that allows one to become a pleasure-seeking freak without concern for consequences, James was just an avaricious man with a taste for the finer things in life. His lack of self-respect and need to impress his newfound “friends” made the other hedonists realize that he’s a fool who can serve as entertainment for the rest of their vacation. Gabi and her friends visit Li Tolqa yearly to engage in a drug-induced wild ride of adultery, perversion, and inconsequential crimes, and James innocently signs up to be their newest pet project. The psychopathic pleasure of letting a man dream and then snatching the dreams away was something Gabi had perfected, and after letting James run mad for a few days, she quickly cut him down to size.

When James’s clone is stabbed to death according to the Li Tolqan law, and his erratic behavior makes Em leave for L.A., he becomes a mad dog, giving into wild behavior that’d get anybody thrown into prison. He was throwing food at other guests, making a scene in the hotel lobby, all the while riding the coattails of the rich people, whom he considered his friends, and Gabi. Once out of the bonds of law and morality that restrain people from becoming feral animals, James let his inner demon take the driver’s seat and started enjoying other people’s suffering. When the others suggested that he take his anger out on an unknown person they identified as Detective Thresh, James beat up the man before urinating on him. However, the moment Gabi took the mask away from the victim’s face, it was revealed to be a clone of James, and he immediately became conscious of his actions. A hypocrite through and through, James had a problem when any harm came upon him but wouldn’t mind inflicting the same on others at all.


It became so easy for Gabi to break James’s psyche because he didn’t respect himself. James knew he was a horrible author, and when Gabi praised him for his book, he was quickly ready to go to an unknown place with a strange couple because he was attracted to the woman who had read his book. Available at her beck and call with ease, James was like a puppy reacting to Gabi’s wishes because he was mesmerized by her charms. Having worshipped her for the better part of the movie, he’s immensely hurt to learn that Gabi has been pretending all this while and what she really thinks of his book. Now he doesn’t know what to feel and can only look to Gabi to give the next command. The final test for James was to kill his own clone, whom Gabi had turned into a dog with a leash around his neck. He did try refusing at first, but when the rabid dog was let loose on James, he proceeded to punch his clone’s skull in, and his transformation into a marionette for Gabi was complete. He is now the babbling baby Gabi wanted to make him, and she lets him suckle on her breasts, and he doesn’t complain because his humanity has perished with the death of his clone.

Why Did James Never Return To L.A.?

Through media like “Squid Game” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” masks have become the symbol of hiding one’s identity and letting one engage in severe grades of perversion and debasing oneself without consequences. Masks act as a metaphor for being able to switch off one’s morality to give in to the primal id that the morality of the ego won’t allow. But what if someone doesn’t have such a switch that lets them alternate between a raving sex-crazed maniac and a businessman? Their psyche is ripped to shreds once reality hits, and they are forced to suffer till the end of their days. The wealthy hedonists who come to the lesser-known country to blow off steam by committing crime after crime without consequences have had masks on during their escapades, both sexual and criminal. However, James never wore a mask when he participated in sexual activity with Gabi, deep under the influence of the hallucinogen, because from start to finish, he only had himself. The hedonists could quite easily turn off those animalistic urges on their way out of the country, but James had no other self to turn off. His rich tormentors had no soul – maybe because of the multiple cloning – which made them insensitive to the crimes they committed, but James still had a morsel of humanity left, so he couldn’t come to terms with the atrocities he has committed and now he can’t return to the civilized world anymore. 


Or could it be because of the repeated cloning, the James we sitting in the hotel as rains wash the deck is no longer the James Foster who comes to Li Tolqa but a soulless clone? However, this theory is rather convoluted because the clones have been shown to exhibit the mentality of the people whose clones they represent. In all probability, with the blood of two people on his hands and the realization of the crimes that come afterward, now that the effect of the hallucinogen is worn off, James is ashamed of the debauchery he participated in and the rabid beast he had turned into. The pleasures of Li Tolqa aren’t for the faint of heart or those with an inkling of humanity because the realization of one’s crimes during sobriety will hit worse than any punch from their own clone.

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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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