Daily Archives: December 14, 2022

Infinite Storm (2022)

*. Stories of humans battling nature or the elements usually have a deeper, even allegorical meaning or are used to illustrate some moral truth. Since nature itself — a perfect storm, a tidal wave, a giant asteroid, drought, etc. — is indifferent to us, our struggle with it turns into a battle against something in ourselves, or of humanity vs. the forces of uncivilization. Moby-Dick was just a whale, but Ahab had to read something in to him. Santiago was proving something to himself in landing the marlin and fighting off the sharks.
*. Infinite Storm is based on the true story of a search-and-rescue mountaineer named Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) who rescued a man dying on New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. He’d gone up there, not dressed for the weather, as a way of attempting suicide. After bringing him down to safety, the man (Pam calls him “John”) just drives away.
*. My understanding is that in real life John wrote a letter to Pam thanking her for saving him and explaining how he’d wanted to kill himself but she’d changed his mind about that. In the movie that wasn’t going to work so they have Pam and John meet up at a diner to have a heart-to-heart, as she shares her own tragic tale of loss.
*. Watts is very good here, and she’s basically on screen the whole time, but the movie itself lacks bite. The survivalist stuff plays out in a realistic way — and I particularly liked the sound effects of the ice pellets — but it’s also very predictable. This compounds a problem with all such movies because it makes the protagonist’s ordeal seem even harder to endure. You see them trying to cross a mountain stream and you’re just waiting for one of them to fall in. Which happens. And Pam’s back story plays out in a similarly conventional way, with flashbacks giving her the strength to carry on when things seem darkest.
*. Directed by Małgorzata Szumowska and co-directed by Michał Englert, who are both Polish. Shot mostly in Slovenia, which was probably cheaper and looks prettier and a little more dangerous than “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire. Mount Washington is 1,917 metres high but these are the Kamnik–Savinja Alps, the highest peaks of which are all much higher (the highest, Grintovec, is 2,558 metres).
*. It’s a nice sentiment about finding meaning in your life, and some measure of redemption, through your connections with others. But at the end it just came off a bit like a Hallmark production, without the romance and with a meet-gritty rather than a meet-cute on the mountain. Authentic and well-meant, but finally nothing special.