'Infinite Storm' review: Naomi Watts trapped inside another clunky survival drama
Courtesy of Bleecker Street
A rich true story that gets the glossy and mundane cinematic treatment, Malgorzata Szumowska’s “Infinite Storm” is another one of those survivalist tales without any of the intensity or heart to stick the landing. It would also seem Naomi Watts is becoming the de-facto actress to headline these routine thrillers where she must overcome insurmountable obstacles to save the day (the less we remember about “The Darkest Hour” the better). She’s once again struck playing a stranded, cold, and isolated individual whose real-life counterpart did something extraordinarily bold and brave that gets buried under the weight of a tireless drama that clearly doesn’t know how to use her.
She plays Pam Bales, a Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue volunteer, who in 2010 stumbled upon a suicidal young man in nothing by a short sleeve shirt and shorts near a cliff in Mount Washington. From there, Bales did everything she could to get the man to safety while a massive storm raged in the backdrop. It’s a remarkable narrative that would probably work better, in terms of emotional investment, as a documentary with the subjects recounting the mission and objective. As a dramatization, there’s nothing for an audience to sink their teeth into. Joshua Rollins' screenplay doesn’t give Bales (and Watts for that matter) something tangible to maneuver around and it’s a bummer that a celebration of Bales accomplishment gets a rather conventional drama where the stakes seem hokey.
At least Watts' performance invites a minor peek into the worldview of Bales whose chance encounter with the unknown man exists because of a tragedy that left her shattered. There’s something poetic Szumowska tries to unearth about how one horrible life event ended up saving another. But when you think about the odds throughout the movie, you start pondering how “Infinite Storm” botched the execution. The reality is, “Infinite Storm” seldom touches the surface of who these individuals are as people and though the movie intermittently offers flashbacks in between the chaos as to why Bales takes her annual hiking trip in the mountains despite a massive storm warning (“It’s cheaper than therapy” she declares) it never amounts to the sum of its parts.
In other words, there’s more to dig into that “Infinite Storm” doesn’t seem keen on exploring.
INFINITE STORM opens in theaters Friday, March 25th.