Monday, February 26, 2018

Movie Review: THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US (2017) Starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba


Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Starring: Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Beau Bridges
Runtime: 112 min
Rating: PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, peril, injury images, and brief strong language
Purchasing Links: DVD, Blu-ray

Read the review after the jump.

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba in The Mountain Between Us


Review by Popa Razvan

As far as survival films go, "The Mountain Between Us" isn't what you'd expect. It's a disaster drama that throws romance into the mix, but the result isn't particularly memorable. Directed by Hany Abu-Assad (Best Foreign Film Oscar nominated films "Paradise Now" and "Omar") from a script by Chris Weitz ("About a Boy") and J. Mills Goodloe ("The Best of Me"), the film is based on the novel of the same name written by Charles Martin that is considered by some to be Christian Fiction. I haven't read the book, but there's nothing in this movie that could be seen as promoting Christianity. It's just the journey of two characters on a path of self-discovery, without any grand epiphanies of the religious kind.

Kate Winslet in The Mountain Between Us

The film wastes no time introducing the protagonists, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet), who are stranded on an airport due to bad weather and in a hurry to get home. They board a charter plane and end up crashing on a mountain peak. Injured and low on supplies, the two decide to take on the wilderness and find help. In the process they discover more about themselves as they learn to work together and help each other through the ordeal, and eventually fall in love, thus adding a romantic angle to their survival story. While some might see this as a forced evolution for the characters, I personally didn't have a problem with the idea of adding romance to the plot. After all, humans in extreme situations form deeper bonds. Or they might just turn against each other. When tested by the elements, people will find out what they are made of and who they really are. That's deep, you might think, and when done right, it can be an emotionally fulfilling cinematic experience. This film doesn't quite get there. And to be perfectly honest, I never found much chemistry between Winslet and Elba, so that damaged the experience a bit.

The romantic element isn't even the film's biggest problem. Its worst offence is that the characters themselves lack depth and despite the charismatic leads' best efforts, fail to generate much interest. As their struggles intensified, I found myself not caring if they make it or not. I was also puzzled by the inclusion of a dog as a sort of four-legged prop. Yes, that's right. There's a dog in this movie. The two survivors are joined in their adventure by the pilot's dog, that somehow manages to survive the crash only to become a convenient plot device throughout the film. Its presence adds nothing to the movie, except to trigger certain events and look cute. I actually thought they would eat it if they ran out of food, but it never comes to that. I mean, call me provincial, but if the Uruguayan Rugby team that crashed in the Andes mountains ended up eating the dead to survive (see "Alive"), I don't think a dog would have been that bad.

Idris Elba in The Mountain Between Us

While the only thing that should have been good, the actual survival adventure, ends up being pretty dull and by-the-numbers, there are still some positive things to be said about the film. When all else fails, you will at least be able to enjoy some solid cinematography. There's also a crafty crash sequence that is very creative and different from anything seen in other disaster films. It may not feel as epic as "Alive" or "Cast Away", but it's technically impressive in its simplicity and efficiency. It's also done in a single shot, which makes it even more impressive. It's a shame that director Hany Abu-Assad doen't manage to replicate this moment of technical magic throughout the film.

Anyone looking for an epic survival adventure or a sophisticated romantic drama should steer clear of this movie. If you don't mind a shallow adventure with some romance thrown in, you might enjoy this one.



  • Winslet and Elba give it their best shot
  • A technically-proficient crash sequence
  • The cinematography

  • Winslet and Elba don't really have much chemistry together
  • The characters are terribly thin and not from lack of food
  • The romance doesn't add anything truly original to the survival story
  • The survival/adventure plot is standard by-the-numbers fare



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