“Survive,” directed by Mark Pellington, completely ignores the body for the mind. It shows two people, Jane and Paul, the only two people who make it out alive after a plane crash but are stranded on a mountain top. Jane suffers from anxiety and is haunted by her past, which makes her want to kill herself. Paul, on the other hand, is a mentally strong person who is in no way giving up despite the odds. In exploring these psyches, especially Jane’s, the film totally disregards the sheer brutal truth that they are, after all, two humans lost in the mountains without much food or water. They miraculously survive for days, walking through heavy snow, snowfall, and rocky terrain, and are too injured to continue.
The film almost ignores reality to delve into the mental state of Jane and her perception of reality. And Paul is nothing but a device used to make Jane’s transformation lucid to the viewers. But too much of anything is bad, and that is what happens here. So, if you can deliberately overlook the exterior to make way for the interior, you can watch this film. Otherwise, you will definitely find yourself questioning how bizarre the film is. The film’s struggle to be true to its genre as an adventure thriller is nothing more than satisfactory. And it is thus the double-agent nature of the film that leads to its downfall.
Jane And Her relationship with Pain
Jane lives in LifeHouse, a home for individuals who suffer from different kinds of mental disorders. Jane has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Suicidal Ideation. It has been a year since she tried to kill herself by slitting her wrist, something that landed her in this place. She says that she didn’t want to be taken somewhere else or away; she wanted to be saved, pitied, and loved. Later on, we find out that she is angry at her father for killing himself, but at the same time blames herself too. This seems to be her way of reasoning with herself about the death of her father. She doesn’t know why her father killed himself, but she uses the pain that she feels from his absence against herself. As she later reveals during an interaction, she is also a planner, and she loses her mind if she is unable to know what to expect next. Perhaps this is the reason why she turned on herself after her father’s death, something that wasn’t a part of her plan. And this feeling of self-hurt is something she has been carrying inside her all her life. It is just as Paul says during a point in the movie that one bad memory weighs in so much that a thousand good memories seem to drift away. The death of Jane’s father took such a toll on her life that it completely rid her of anything that made her smile. And it took a plane crash for Jane to come face-to-face with reality (something which the film couldn’t do).
Furthermore, Jane even leaves her roommate, young Cara, who is back at Life House, without even telling her. And when she receives a call from her doctor, who has found out from Cara that she intends to do something hurtful to herself, Jane turns it around and tells him that Cara is a compulsive liar. She does this only so that she can go back home. We do not know if she had this excuse ready or if she made it up then and there. But either way, it does, in a way, signify her planning nature. However, this is the only time we get to see her planning side, as the film doesn’t explore it anymore.
At the airport, she meets Paul, who seems to be a congenial guy. They even have their seats beside each other (Paul reveals later that he changed his seat to sit beside her). And while Paul likes to talk, Jane isn’t interested at all, so she apologizes and keeps to herself. She decides to put an end to her life by using an overdose of her pills. But before doing that, she writes a note to Paul, telling him that he needs to know that her death wasn’t his fault and that she is glad that he was the last person she spoke to. She folds the piece of paper and puts it inside Paul’s pocket while he sleeps. She then goes inside the washroom and is contemplating when fate shows up, as if to teach her a lesson about the life that she wanted to end so badly. Her letter to Paul proves that she has a good heart that has been taken over by her mind, which is basically the case most of the time for us too. We tend to push away those who care for us and stay alone and try to absorb the pain by putting a lid on it, which only tightens the pain’s grasp around us. Or, it can also be a way for Jane to keep Paul out of her life and her pain, which she knows will only hurt him.
After the plane crash, she finds a piece of glass that she keeps to herself, another sign of her intention to kill herself. And now she has more reason to do so since there is no way to survive. However, let’s remember that after Paul left her alone inside the crashed plane, she followed him. This shows that she doesn’t want to die like that, which is proof of the connection between two of her major aspects, i.e., her planning nature and her suicidal nature. Suicide is basically planned death, and it includes decisions as well. But since all that is happening around Jane isn’t according to her plans or decisions, she isn’t willing to die either. In simple words, she can kill herself, not a random plane crash, an avalanche, or even a wolf. Interestingly, she uses the very piece of glass to kill the wolf that she intended to use to kill herself (probably by slitting her wrist yet again). This piece of glass is a symbol of her transition from her previous insecure self to one who has taken control over her actions.
Paul’s Confidence Isn’t Enough
Throughout the film, it is an injured Paul that keeps hope warm amidst the cold. This is done to the extent that when he is on the verge of giving up, it is Jane who motivates him and tells him that they will make it out alive. This change in Jane is brought about by Paul.
We should mention the role of nature in bringing Paul and Jane close, which strengthened both their bond and will to survive. However, it doesn’t change reality. Paul is fatally wounded. He broke his ribs in the crash, and the infection has spread to his whole torso. But he goes on because he knows that if he breaks down, Jane will too, and he can not let that happen. Other than the fact that he was smitten, he probably sensed that Jane had some kind of issue, from their conversation on the plane and then later on when she denied leaving the crash site, and he would not leave her alone in her state.
However, his confident self, as raised by his mother, something he speaks to Jane about while they are inside a cave, begins to crumble when reality strikes. One can be as brave as one wants, but nature doesn’t understand bravery, and neither does it forgive. And even though they get out of the cave, adversity doesn’t end there. Paul breaks his left arm, and his body weakens further to the point where he starts vomiting blood. This is when Paul realizes that he is going to die. However, he makes Jane understand that she has to stay alive.
‘Survive’ Ending Explained- Does Jane Make it? Is Paul Alive?
Jane walks a long way, surviving the cold, facing a wolf, killing it, and receiving deep wounds in the process, ultimately reaching a road. But before she could take the road, she fell unconscious. After she wakes up in a hospital in Montana, she finds out from her mother that the authorities found Paul the morning after they found her. Paul is dead. He left a note for her wherein he mentioned how glad he was that they found each other. And it was this note that would be Jane’s stepping stone into a new phase of her life, one that wasn’t dark but bright. She had survived not just death but herself and was reborn. And although she doesn’t have Paul with her, her love for him and his love for her will always be there in her heart.
While “Survive” shows Jane’s journey of becoming a better version of herself by taking her through nature’s adversities, the process feels vague. And let us not ignore the fact that everything that Jane and Paul went through was apparently on an empty stomach and without water. They climbed down a steep mountain without any kind of harness. And although it is tough to accept all this, the message of the film makes us overlook it all the same. But this is our nobility and not all of the film’s context.
“Survive” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Mark Pellington.