The Naomi Watts survival picture that has more danger than substance.
I’m sitting in an empty theater at an evening showing of “Infinite Storm,” and as the film begins, I either hear the AC running or the rain pouring down. And so far, I’m feeling quite relaxed, especially since Naomi Watts stars as a New Hampshire girl, who wakes up early to climb the mountains of Mount Washington State Park, just as a blizzard is about to hit. I find it quite soothing when a movie set during or a blizzard or a rain storm, and you’re watching it during a rain storm or a blizzard.
In “Infinite Storm’s” case, it’s during a blizzard. Watts as Pam Bales begins to hike up the mountain, and makes it about half way, just as dark clouds roll by and the wind is blowing. She also finds herself trapped in a snow hole, and struggles to get out. And finally, she comes across faded footprints belonging to a man (Billy Howie) who barely has anything on. He’s just sitting there. The man, whom she named John, acts like he doesn’t want to be saved, but Pam is willing to save him.
That’s the set-up to “Infinite Storm,” which is based on Pam’s story told in the article “High Places: Footprints in the Snow Lead to an Emotional Rescue.” In comparison to “127 Hours,” which was also about a real hike gone bad, this one isn’t that deep or complex, but “Infinite Storm” does face its challenges, and it offers some fine performances from the two leads.
Every step of the way down, Pam tells John not to do anything stupid, but he screws up at times. Is he on drugs or alcohol or something? Or what’s up with this guy? She has to deal with him throughout the way through, but she never gives up on him.
As we meet him, we’re wondering what was he doing up there to begin with? And why didn’t he have anything warm on? I didn’t know the real story, so I was curious as Pam was. To my perspective, I thought he was in danger from bad men or he was suicidal. But it’s hardly unlikely, according to what the movie portrays. Not everything is told they way thrillers would sell to the public. After all, this is an artisan feature, released by Bleecker Street.
Polish filmmaker Małgorzata Szumowska directs “Infinite Storm” with a certain kind of tone and ambiance that leaves us relax, then curious, then at our seats, back to being curious again, and inspired by its hopeful narrative. The performances from Watts and Howie are both sincere, as their characters struggle to adapt to each other’s presence, and are worried about not making it down. At least the man is worried and his tears are real.
Given the snowy environment, I was reminded of a movie Robin Wright made last year called “Land,” which may not be a survival film, but still had to deal with a woman who wanted to live in the mountains away from civilization as possible. None of these two films are deep, but they do allow us to care about their heroines and how they adapt to their surroundings. They have their own aspects, and how nature can take its course on them. It’s cold as balls on the mountains, but I’m glad I got to take a look at it.