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.

18 thoughts on “Infinite Storm (2022)

  1. Bookstooge

    Do you know how much money we waste rescuing idiots each year from Mt Washington? Too much, that’s how much. And 9 times out 10, they are from Massachusetts. A guy died in the last 2 years because he wasn’t prepared at all.

    Suicide by exposure seems like a rough way to go. What’s wrong with the classic “step in front of a bus”?

    Reply
      1. Bookstooge

        No. I’ve climbed Mt Monadnock but have zero interest now in Washington. Plus, there’s a road all the way up to the top, so why hike when you can drive. They even have bumper stickers saying “this car climbed Mt Washington”.

        I’d think romance would be the last thing on someone’s mind who is trying to off themselves. Haven’t had any personal experience with that though, so what do I know.

        How does taking out bins compare to mountain climbing? I’d think the challenges would be similar.

      2. Alex Good Post author

        I like to think that my grey bin is *my* Mt. Washington.

        I didn’t know they had a road going up the mountain! That’s terrible. I guess the people in this movie were taking the hard way up.

      3. Bookstooge

        Is like Mt Washington, or more like Mt Doom? Do you whisper to it when you take it out to the curb? And do canadians have curbs or kerbs?

        There are several hiking trails but the road is for the people like me who just want to get to the top and see the view.

      4. Alex Good Post author

        Not at all like Mt. Doom. No pool of lava at the bottom or glowing eye on top.

        I’m pretty sure it’s curbs. At least that’s what I say.

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