The Mountain Between Us review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
For a film all about a disaster where a trip doesn’t go according to plan, The Mountain Between Us goes almost exactly according to plan. It throws together Idris Elba and Kate Winslet in a scenario where they must try to survive the harsh cold but not so harsh they can’t bond a little in a film that slowly turns from gritty survival drama to a rickety romance. Let’s just say Elba and Winslet fair much better than the environment.
Elba plays Dr. Ben Bass, a neurosurgeon with an emergency operation to meet. Winslet plays Alex Martin, a photojournalist with a wedding to attend. Both are in a hurry and when the airport can’t offer them much, they seek private pilot Walter (Beau Bridges) to fly them towards their destination. Unfortunate for them, Walter didn’t file a flight plan and dies while en route. The jet crashes and the only survivors of Bass and Martin, with the addition of a dog in tow, must brave the harsh winter on a mountainside. And over the course of the film, they’ll both learn how to survive and perhaps grow to love each other.
The more the film goes along, the clearer it becomes that it doesn’t have the sharpest of teeth to be a standout of the survival dramas. Consider how Alex finds herself alone with the dog when a mountain lion comes trotting into their makeshift camp of the jet’s fuselage. The dog is the first notice this new creature and Alex hears the dog get into a scuffle outside. In any other film, that dog would be toast and once the lion retreats, it’s a matter of deciding whether or not to eat the dog. Don’t worry, folks; the dog it okay. Just a minor scratch that a skilled surgeon such as Bass can easily dress. Lucky dog.
And there are plenty of lucky breaks for the trio. They don’t have much food and their flares are sparse. They know they’ll have to start hiking and do so soon after tending to their wounds and packing up. And though face a danger of bear traps and cracking ice, both of them seem to come through rather well. They don’t appear to be either starving or deeply frozen as they edge closer to civilization. It isn’t too long before they discover a cabin and can take a break from the survival aspect for a bit of that romance to sink in.
This is such a timid survival picture I doubt it’d be much of a spoiler to mention that the dog makes it out of this scenario relatively well. Aside from the pilot who receives an unceremonious burial in the snowy mountains quite quickly, the film presents itself more as an unorthodox drama which seems more concerned of Elba and Winslet will hook rather than if they’ll survive this ordeal. Because once they do, the film quickly switches gear into a very strange type of romance of them both running into each other’s arms. So if you were hoping for the two of them to spend more time risking their lives than genuinely connecting, you may be dismayed to discover that the usually powerful Elba only comes out of this experience with a mere scar.