Brandon Cronenberg, the son of body-horror expert David Cronenberg, has brought us the psychological thriller “Infinity Pool,” ripe with pornographic, immoral, and perverse elements, where the basic question is how far humans will venture if they can act without consequences. In his movie, Cronenberg takes us to the fictional nation of Li Tolqa, where the rules of the law are severe yet pretty flexible, depending on how deep your pockets are. This country is bizarre, to say the least, and everything from its culture to its people is unlike what civilized nations expect. Here’s a deeper look into the peculiar country that forms the central location for the 2023 film “Infinity Pool.”
An impoverished country with very little safety for the indigenous and a lack of education for its natives that also serves as a lavish tourist getaway is how we come to see the fictional seaside nation called Li Tolqa. With a luxurious resort with every possible amenity one can imagine and winding roads that take you to a beautiful beach, everything about the primary places of attraction reminds you of M. Night Shyamalan’s 2021 horror/thriller “Old.” However, the strange laws of Li Tolqa and the even more bewildering phenomena of the country make it a frequent tourist spot if one is aware of the crevices in its corporal law. The primary source of income for the country is tourism, which is taken very seriously by the Li Tolqan government, to the point that they’ve devised a way to allow wealthy, bored tourists to use their country as a personal sporting ground. “Infinity Pool” is what you get when you value foreign currency over your citizens’ wellbeing.
What James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) find inside a dilapidated and extremely shady police station is basically a “get out of jail free” card that the corrupted government of the country offers to the tourists in case they commit a crime. It’s actually rather difficult to follow the myriad laws of the country, with everything from drug use to sexual preferences punishable by death. Even if death isn’t the typical kind with a noose or a lethal injection—the kind we’re used to seeing—if someone is found guilty of the death of another, especially if it could have been avoided, the punishment is disturbing, to say the least. The federal law dictates that whoever kills another man shall be killed by the victim’s eldest son, even if they haven’t reached puberty, and in case the victim doesn’t have sons, the state carries it out for the family. Even with such a messed-up rule, there are crevices because the corrupt and greedy government thirsts for the American dollar. The country has a system where, in exchange for a sizeable sum, the convict’s clone is prepared by a technique known only to the Li Tolqan scientists. This clone stands in to be executed—all the while screaming, crying, and begging to be rescued—resembling every trait of the person they have been cloned from.
As perplexing and shocking as this may sound, the government’s unique way of making some extra cash on the side is made full use of by the wealthy foreigners who see Li Tolqa as the place where the consequences of their crimes, no matter how severe, can be washed away with money. In such a place of inconsequential actions, morality takes a backseat, and even the most perverse and rabid urges can run amok. It’s ironic, then, that a country with such strict laws about the ways of life has a gaping hole in its moral system where wealth excuses the gravest of sins. Imagine a country that’s as corrupt as Syria or South Sudan, where the common people starve, and survival is a daily struggle, but it has resorts that put The Ritz or The Four Seasons to shame. The bank balance of the government officials and the lawmen keeps shooting up as they allow foreigners to use their nation as a place to satiate their desires while the regular people barely have enough to eat. What might have been nature’s greatest gift or mankind’s biggest achievement since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon is treated as a free pass to crime in this sorry country.
In “Infinity Pool,” the tourists who arrive to purge their evils in Li Tolqa treat the inhabitants as subhumans because of their illiteracy and poverty. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that the wealthy visitors see the common people as grotesque and abominable as the nightmarish Ekki masks they wear. Ironically, it’s the tourists themselves whose souls are as repulsive as these Ekki masks, while the indigenous people they spit on are just poor people trying to make a living in a country that’s too conservative about everything. However, when James hobbles over to a plot of land owned by one of the farmers in the country while bleeding out from a bullet wound in his leg, it’s these “savages” who treat his injuries, bandage him, and give him a place to rest in their own beds. This hatred towards the natives that tourists like Gabi Bauer (aka Mia Goth) propelled is completely unfounded and just an expression of the way people like them view the people of the country they treat as their hunting grounds. If you’re aware of George Orwell’s 1936 study into postcolonial behavior in “Shooting an Elephant,” the attitude of the colonialists towards the Myanmar natives mirrors the way Gabi talks about the Li Tolqan natives. The cruelty the colonialists displayed towards the Burmese locals during their occupation of the country comes from the position of power they held over the poor farmers, and once again, Cronenberg’s fictional country shows how wealth and power allow people to treat their fellow humans as second-class citizens.
Everything is for sale in Li Tolqa – from the integrity of detectives like Thresh to the highly restricted hallucination-inducing drugs like Ekki gate. While forgiveness for the crimes of robbing people and murdering them can be bought by paying corrupt detectives like Thresh, Gabi buys the root drug from a guard to get into the mood before their group adult activities. The higher the position of power held by the Li Tolqan officials, the lesser their adherence to morality and integrity. In this context, the fictional country is a reflection of almost every nation where money speaks louder than the rule of law, except for the cloning miracle. In a nation where the upholders of law will sell their souls for a few American dollars, honesty can only be found at the grassroots of the same natives, better known as the savages.