Did James pass, however? Was that even a possibility, or was the torture, humiliation, and ultimate revelation the point? And what, if anything, has he learned about himself?
When James first meets the zombies, one of them brings up the notion that many savvy audience members are thinking about as soon as Brandon Cronenberg’s twist drops: how does James, or any of the gang, know that they’re the original? How many doubles of them exist, anyway? The title “Infinity Pool” refers to the reason Gabi and Alban originally got in trouble with the Li Tolqans, where the construction of a pool for a new resort went wrong and resulted in some accidental deaths. It also refers to the type of pool itself, an optical illusion that seems to indicate to the naked eye that there is no horizon when, in fact, there exists a definite ending, a certain limit to the pool.
With “Antiviral,” “Possessor,” and this film, Cronenberg’s thematic focus seems to be a skewed response to his famous father: where David Cronenberg’s movies are rampant with self-destruction, Brandon’s films concern the destruction of the self, a redefinition, and sublimation of identity. James doesn’t know who he is, hence his failure as an author.
Gabi and the zombies perceive this as a fault in James’ masculinity, pegging Em (who married James for no better reason than to get back at her father) as a woman who has sapped his virility. On the outside, James is the perfect male specimen: handsome, rich, and in shape. Cronenberg seems to say that James’ failing isn’t being a whipped wimp, but is instead a result of his emptiness: he’s all surface, no depth, like Vincent or Roger O. Thornhill, like an infinity pool. In essence, a clone even before he’s been doubled.