Never say Naomi Watts doesn’t suffer for her art.
The Australian star endured what must have been a brutal run for “The Impossible,” a fact-based story about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
She also survived a serious flirting with the main character in the 2008 remake of “King Kong”.
Now, she’s buried under the snow and wind in “Infinite Storm.” Why? Shows our desire to exist and our ability to handle pain to any degree.
It’s right in her wheelhouse, and there’s never a time when you wish another actress landed the gig.
Watts play Pam Balesa veteran hiker set off on a hike in New Hampshire despite sketchy weather forecasts.
Still, she’s up for anything, and we believe it.
What she didn’t expect to find was a young man (Billy howls) unprepared for the fatigue factor. Together, they will have to descend the mountain despite a storm much larger than either of them had anticipated.
However, Pam suffers from another setback, one that makes no sense for much of the film.
The massive series of “Infinite Storm” is a test of our heroine’s endurance, coming with obvious perks and downsides. Dialogue is minimal, as are the traditional character arcs. We can still learn a lot about Pam and her unnamed cohort (she calls him “John”) as they battle Mother Nature.
She’s harboring a sizable loss, something that is teased in flashbacks throughout the film. John’s plot is at best a blur, and “Storm” requires patience before the clouds come in.
Pam is all about survival, from her exterior skills to her inner strength that shines through a cinematic storm.
It’s all fascinating, if not mesmerizing. The film, which is based on a true story, mainly sticks to the story in question. That means director Malgorzata Szumowska (“The Other Lamb”) can’t “Hollywood up” what’s going on. It leaves a gritty movie with a strong “you are there” feeling, but sometimes the howling winds and bone-chilling cold can tire you out.
Finally, we learn more about each character, and the mysteries are solved in an organic way. Currents under subject matter are profound, if mildly predictable.
The strange bond that forms between Pam and John separates “Storm” from similar threads. They’re a duo we haven’t met on screen yet, and the story leans in that direction.
Watts never gives a fake moment, nor does she imply that her character is a superhero in any way. She simply won’t stop.
The third act feels more conventional than the rest of the film. It’s a life affirmation at its best, a statement of human resilience that goes beyond thunderstorms or bitter winds.
Hit or miss: Good luck in finding a more life-affirming thriller than the elaborately choreographed “Infinite Storm”.