With two-time Oscar nominated director Hany Abu-Assad, and lead roles from household names Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, one would expect more from The Mountain Between Us. But, instead, the writers offer us forced romance, awkward jokes, and an excruciatingly cringey ending, making this film an overall disappointment.
The film begins with Ben (Elba) and Alex (Winslet) stuck in an airport in Idaho, USA, in which all flights have been grounded due to a snowstorm. Both characters are pressed for time, however; Ben, a neurosurgeon, needs to get to a 10-year-old boy’s surgery, whilst Alex, a photojournalist, needs to get to New York for what seems to be a rather rushed wedding.
The two curate a plan in which they charter a flight to Denver and plan to catch connections from there, with the help of Walter, the pilot (Beau Bridges), and a rather randomly placed canine companion who inevitably becomes the understated star of the show. But alas, a plot-twist: the plane crashes. The two seemingly mismatched strangers are left to fend for themselves in the bitingly bitter and snowy terrain. Ben wakes to a few broken ribs; Alex, with a gaping wound in her thigh; the dog, miraculously unscathed. Ben, (conveniently) being a surgeon, dresses Alex’s wound: the first of many uncomfortably sensual scenes.
The film does have redeemable qualities, and there is much to enjoy once accustomed to the clumsy, clunky writing. Mandy Walker’s cinematography is stunning; her opening shot is intriguing and illusive as we follow a stressed Alex around the airport. In addition, the breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountain range almost make you forget the lack of character within the film (but not quite). Both Elba and Winslet’s presence on screen is striking and magnetic, and it is a shame that their talents could not have been put to better use. If anything, it’s easy to enjoy 103 minutes of two easy-on-the-eye actors and a joyful golden labrador, provided one doesn’t ask too many questions, or mentally engage with the dialogue.
Image: Tina Franklin