Infinity Pool Ending Explained: What Is James Foster's Fate?

Alexander Skarsgard in Infinity Pool
(Image credit: Neon)

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Infinity Pool. If you have not yet seen the film, proceed at your own risk!

Three movies into his career as a writer/director, Brandon Cronenberg has quickly made an impression on the film world with extreme style and sensibilities. His latest, Infinity Pool, has earned rave reviews from critics who have praised it as a demented and dizzying social satire, and obviously a big part of that lauding extends from the fact that the story sticks the landing when it comes to the ending of the wild and horrific journey.

Over the course of the film, author James Foster (star Alexander Skarsgård) goes on a soul darkening journey in the fictional nation of La Tolqa – learning about intense lawlessness among the super wealthy that is allowed because money lets them afford a cloning procedure that creates doubles to face the consequences for their crimes. So, how does this damning journey conclude and where does it leave James? That’s what we’re here to dissect in this examination of the Infinity Pool ending.

Mia Goth in Infinity Pool.

(Image credit: Neon)

What Happens At The End Of Infinity Pool?

One could mark the beginning of the end of Infinity Pool at the sequence where James wakes up in a farmhouse following his failed attempted escape from La Tolqa. Stumbling outside, he finds that he is surrounded by his other fellow “zombies,” and they are accompanied by James’ double – who is kept on a leash and called The Dog. The clone is given a big whiff of the hallucinogenic root known as Ekki Gate, and Gabi (Pearl star Mia Goth) announces that the protagonist must sacrifice The Dog in order to release his past. James is given a knife, but he rejects the whole idea and tosses the weapon away.

High and acting feral, the dog is let loose and attacks James, which leaves him with no choice but to fight back in self-defense. James, despite dealing with a gunshot wound in his leg, ends up being victorious, as he beats his double to a bloody pulp with his bare hands. He is visibly exhausted and lost, and Gabi approaches him. She takes a breast out of her blouse, smears a hand covered in blood across her nipple, and she leans down to nurse James like an infant. He accepts the offer.

The next day, the vacation comes to an end. James calls Em (Cleopatra Coleman) to discuss his return trip, and he packs his suitcase in his hotel room – including the urns that contain the ashes of his doubles. He rides silently along with his affluent “friends” in a shuttle, and they all discuss mundane details of their lives back home. At the airport, goodbyes are exchanged along with hopes that James will come back to La Tolqa next year. Within the terminal, things eventually go from bustling to silent, and the protagonist is left alone.

Returning to the Pa Qlpa Pearl Princess Resort, James sits alone poolside under an umbrella, and it’s apparent that rainy season is in full force as the world is obscured by a downpour.

What are we meant to take away from this conclusion? That’s next!

Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth wearing masks in Infinity Pool

(Image credit: Neon)

What Will Happen To James?

From the moment that James witnesses the death of his first double and smiles, its apparent that he is in real trouble – and from that point on his soul is basically left in a tailspin. He is seduced by Gabi into a world of bacchanalia and hedonism that comes out of being in a society where cash outweighs consequence, and it’s notably a world from which he would otherwise be excluded. He has no money of his own as an unsuccessful novelist; all of his resources come from Em, who begins distancing herself from him as she starts to witness the darkness that is enveloping him.

And it all turns out to just be a horrible lie. He gets high on the anarchy, but the reality is that he’s just a plaything for the truly powerful and rich. Gabi saw him as an easy target for some fun spirit corruption, and James proved them correct. He goes along because he wants what they have and feels like he is one of them, but the truth is that he is the subject of a prank and a plaything.

It’s because he isn’t really one of them that he has an alternative experience when it comes time to leave La Tolqa. Gabi, her husband Alban (Jalil Lespert) and their friends can return to their well-to-do lives in the normal world, but James is broken after his vacation. What awaits him back in America is a wife who now fears him and an unsuccessful writing career that has been buoyed resentfully by his father-in-law. He knows pure, carnal freedom now, and he can’t go back to life without it.

What’s left for the protagonist is just staying put – though it’s hard to imagine that working out for him long term. When Em finds out that he never boarded his plane, it seems unlikely that she will continue to pay for his stay at the resort. And even if she is willing to keep paying for some unclear reason, the resort will shut down because of the rainy season, and he will have nowhere to stay anyway. This would probably result in him being kicked out beyond the barbed-wired walls of Pa Qlpa Pearl Princess Resort, and after that he probably wouldn’t live long in the crime-abundant nation. Perhaps he’ll be killed; perhaps he will be forced to commit a crime and be executed. Regardless, there is no happy ending to this story.

Infinity Pool, which also stars Thomas Kretschmann, Amanda Brugel, John Ralston, Caroline Boulton and Jeff Ricketts, is now playing in theaters following its premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. You can find local listings and purchase tickets on Fandango. To learn about all of the features that are presently scheduled to be released between now and the end of December, check out the 2023 new movie releases, and be on the look out for more Ending Explained guides here on CinemaBlend.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.