There is a finely balanced sense of realism and lyricism in the work of Szumowska, whose movies have taken home two Silver Bear Grand Jury Prizes from the Berlin Film Festival. Working with cinematographer and frequent collaborator Michal Englert (who receives a co-director designation in the end credits), Szumowska crafts a highly experiential movie. Smart shot selection and camerawork are abetted by swirling sound design from Ben Baird, lending Infinite Storm the feeling of to-scale technical marvel, especially during the outdoor passages that comprise the bulk of its 98-minute running time. With one possible exception (a close-up of a New Hampshire “Live Free Or Die” license plate), it eschews any brawny clichés of survival and instead strikes an effective balance between capturing the howling, unconquerable brutality of nature and communicating the inner feelings of a woman attempting to navigate it.


Still, too much of Infinite Storm feels like the dramatic version of a meandering anecdote from a friend who can’t be interrupted. Adapted by Joshua Rollins from a 2010 newspaper article by Ty Gagne, the film is illustrative of the difference between a story merely well told and a story well conceived. It doesn’t necessarily spoil much to say that Infinite Storm eventually gets off the mountain, which is the point at which Rollins attempts to unpack and make sense of matters, after indulging plenty of straightforward rescue mode. But it feels like a fundamental misframing of the narrative, a too-late arrival of human connection.

Infinite Storm evidences Szumowska’s gifts as a director, but it also offers an important reminder about the inherent limitations of cinematic storytelling: Just because the truth is compelling, sometimes it’s still better to print the legend.