Synopsis: When a climber gets caught in a blizzard on Mount Washington, she encounters a stranded stranger and must get them both down the mountain before nightfall.
Stars: Naomi Watts, Billy Howle, Denis O’Hare, Parker Sawyers
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert
Running Length: 104 minutes
TMMM Score: (4/10)
Review: Over time, I’ve found certain actresses that I gravitate toward because they have a quality, a spirit, that you can’t help wanting to get behind. Australian actress Naomi Watts is on that shortlist for me. Perhaps it’s because she’s a dedicated veteran that’s given it her all in films that haven’t allowed her to be painted into a corner. Most of the time, it’s yielded successful results, but it hasn’t brought her a golden trophy named Oscar she can rest on her mantle. It’s a goal I feel Watts tries to aim for, often blatantly, and the newest effort is the survival drama Infinite Storm. Whereas her traumatic performance in the pulverizing tsunami film 2012’s The Impossible last brought her to The Academy Awards, Infinite Storm will leave her (and audiences) out in the cold.
Not that Watts doesn’t, as usual, go for broke playing an experienced climber who works as a volunteer search and rescue operator that finds herself caught in an unexpected storm. Polish directors Malgorzata Szumowska & Michal Englert take their time getting Watts to her mountain, taking audiences through her morning routine, and chit-chat with a shop owner (Denis O’Hare, Dallas Buyers Club) before she zips up and heads out. It’s an otherwise ordinary journey up Mount Washington until the weather suddenly turns, and her instincts send her down to safety. She’s not faster than the storm, though, and she gets caught up in it, along with another mystery man (Billy Howle, Dunkirk) she runs into on her way down. Without the proper equipment, she has to do the work for both of them if either is to survive.
Without giving too much away, I’ll say that there’s more to the film than what you see in the trailers, but I wish I could hint that it’s worth checking out. Even the first half, which should see pulses race as Watts kicks into survival mode, fail to quicken much, and it’s primarily due to a curious lack of connection between the actors with each other or the viewer. There’s not much to grab onto, so you’re left to flail around aimlessly. That makes for a tiring experience, made more exhausting by the screenplay from Josh Rollins that consists primarily of Watts saying her companion’s name ad infinitum. She says his name (John) so much that you almost start to hope one doesn’t make it down alive…almost.
Based on a true story drawn from Ty Gagne’s article, “High Places: Footprints in the Snow Lead to an Emotional Rescue”, I wanted Infinite Storm to operate on a scale as impressive as some of Englert’s gorgeous cinematography. Too much is lost to a blizzard of histrionics that again keep Watts from finding a prime role of which she’s been deserving. Scale this mountain at your own risk.
INFINITE STORM will be available on demand starting April 12th
Rent or buy on all major platforms including Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play & Vudu.