The Mountain Between Us

Review by Elena Lazic @elazic

Directed by

Hany Abu-Assad

Starring

Beau Bridges Idris Elba Kate Winslet

Anticipation.

This looks extremely fun from the trailers, and Idris Elba with Kate Winslet is an interesting pairing.

Enjoyment.

Even more absurd and fun than expected.

In Retrospect.

This is not a great movie. But it’s a fun one we shall remember fondly.

Love blossoms in the wake of a plane crash in this fun romantic disaster movie with Idris Elba and Kate Winslet.

As a rule, the highly dangerous situations seen in disaster movies usually preclude any opportunities for real romance. Though escaping from aliens or attempting to outrun the destruction brought on by a large scale environmental disaster can be a bonding experience, rarely are such circumstances conducive to a lasting relationship.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Charles Martin, The Mountain Between Us tries to switch up this principle. When their flight is cancelled due to bad weather, handsome surgeon Dr Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) hop on a ropily piloted charter plane. Both are ready to risk death: in Ben’s case for an important surgery; for Alex, it’s to not miss her own wedding.

It isn’t long before the tiny machine crashes, killing the pilot instantly and thus unfairly wiping great character actor Beau Bridges from the picture. The pilot’s dog, however, miraculously survives, and proves to be an invaluable asset. But rest assured: even when they run out of food, the survivors never consider eating the animal.

This desperate situation isn’t all that desperate – as survival movies go, Ben and Alex actually get a pretty easy ride. Though food is apparently running low, neither shows any signs of weakness, and the supposedly debilitating cold is casually mentioned only a few times. When they move from the remnants of the cockpit in the snow to an empty house in the mountains, the absence of a roof does not make it any less cosy.

While the survival aspect of the film is what moves the narrative forward, it never becomes so intense as to get in the way of good old fashioned movie romance. All things considered, the situation Ben and Alex find themselves in feels more comparable to being stuck in an elevator with a stranger for hours, than to surviving a deadly catastrophe.

With that in mind, perhaps it makes sense for the two charismatic and attractive characters to spend an inordinate amount of time cracking jokes and being charming with one another. Winslet and Elba have undeniable comic chemistry, and moments of humour suggest that the film might be aware of its own ludicrousness.

Considerably undermining this is the romance that then develops between the two strangers. Although their relationship never seems to run deeper than the cordial tolerance of two neighbours who kind of like each other, the two inevitably sleep together. The film’s romantic denouement is unrealistic, gloriously cheesy – they part ways then run back to each other at the corner of a building – extremely endearing, and really quite funny.

The Mountain Between Us is a movie of superficial pleasures. The fun lies not in the narrative or in the development of the characters’ relationship, but in the film’s many absurd details – which repeatedly get us out of its world, and back into our theater seat. With jarring narrative elements (the really good dog, an unfortunate bear trap, and more), incredible dialogue, and entertaining performances from two actors navigating constant register shifts, this one-of-a-kind film demands to be enjoyed as a camp object.

Published 4 Oct 2017

Tags: Idris Elba Kate Winslet

Anticipation.

This looks extremely fun from the trailers, and Idris Elba with Kate Winslet is an interesting pairing.

Enjoyment.

Even more absurd and fun than expected.

In Retrospect.

This is not a great movie. But it’s a fun one we shall remember fondly.

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