Beauty amid chaos: ‘INFINITE STORM’ director explores humanity’s peaks, valleys in Naomi Watts-starring survival drama

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

In fall 2010, search and rescue volunteer Pam Bales set out on a familiar path to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Along the way, she noticed that a fast-approaching blizzard would complicate her ascension and render it too dangerous. So, she turned back. 

Then, Bales saw shoe prints in the snow coming from a pair of sneakers (and not hiking boots), a sign she took that trouble was afoot.

That’s the start of a harrowing true story that serves as the basis for Bleecker Street’s survival drama Infinite Storm, starring two-time Oscar-nominated actress Naomi Watts (as Bales) and directed by Polish filmmaker Małgorzata Szumowska (The Other Lamb). 

Szumowska’s film opens in theaters this weekend, and it’s a refreshingly emotional rescue narrative. Its opening stillness, where it removes the impulse to use spoken dialogue (much like There Will Be Blood), informs that this will not be your typical mission film. We spend a great deal of time observing Bales’ meditation, with only teases of her past life. How she responds to her surroundings and impending danger gives you all the characterization you need. We don’t need a conversation with multiple people to learn who she is. We pick up the knowledge along the journey, and that mystery aspect keeps us going up and down the mountain with Bales. 

Like last year’s Drive My Car, this is ultimately a story of two individuals connecting over grief. The final sequence may be one of the most emotionally rattling experiences you’ll have because it sneaks up on you. But that’s the magic of Szumowska’s work. Nothing needs to be spoon-fed; sometimes, it just needs to be felt, and a lot can be felt here.

To dig a little deeper, Fresh Fiction sat down with Szumowska via Zoom Video. In the below interview, we discuss embracing stillness and personal metaphysical experiences. Enjoy the chat, and catch Infinite Storm in theaters!

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.