Infinite Storm is the true story of a mountain rescue in New Hampshire. When those of us in flyover country imagine mountain rescues, we think of the Rockies, the Sierras, or maybe some range in Alaska. The White Mountains in New Hampshire sound like someplace The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel would go in the summertime. Yet, for seventy six years, Mount Washington held the record for the fastest surface wind gust in the world at 231 miles per hour. Against that backdrop, you will see some of the most gorgeous scenery Slovenia has to offer.
Slovenia? With a Polish director, a Polish cinematographer, and partly using funds from a Polish production company, maybe it makes sense that Infinite Storm gets filmed 4,000 miles away from its origin story. High Places: Footprints in the Snow Lead to an Emotional Rescue tells us it was October 17, 2010 when Pam Bales began her climb. She planned a six hour hike. Warned that the weather might deteriorate, she suspects that her day might be a little different when she sees a single set of tennis shoe tracks. It will still be some time before she spots a solitary figure sitting in the howling snow.
As a rescue story, Infinite Storm has the feel of the brutal conditions and difficulties encountered, yet those can be mind-numbing at times. Somehow, the director makes the heroic monotonous. I give the film 3.0 Gavels and it receives a 58% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a 6.2/10 IMDb score.
Is John on drugs? Maybe he’s delirious? Is there such a thing as “death by mountain?” Trained in search and rescue, Pam will not leave John behind. Most want rescued; why does John not cooperate? Flashbacks indicate Pam has her own demons. Does she have the time and strength to insure that she, too, doesn’t become a victim? “Don’t you dare fall into the water!” Darkness comes early in a mountain storm. Survival will not be easy.
From Penguin Bloom to Boss Level, it’s hard to define an actress like Naomi Watts. Infinite Storm is nearly a one-woman show and Watts makes a fine Pam Bales. You struggle as she struggles. Billy Howle (On Chesil Beach) is the only other character with any screen time as the anonymous “John.”
Set forth in the Union Leader’s article, John’s letter to Pam’s boss is much more effective than the ending to Infinite Storm. Certainly, the final scene and the pre-credits scene are cryptic, at best.
“This misframed effort does itself no favors by claiming its nonfiction bona fides so prominently to its promotion and opening credits, and then flogging them so repeatedly.” AV Club
“It’s exhausting. Watts is game, fit and makeup free, but it’s starting to seem like the actress has a rescue-or-be-rescued fixation.” AARP Movies for Grownups
If you are a Naomi Watts’ groupie, go for it. Otherwise, I’m not sure if I would even put this one on your to-do list.