Based on Charles Martin’s novel of the same name, The Mountain Between Us is about as icy as the slopes the doomed plane carrying Idris Elba’s surgeon Ben and Kate Winslet’s photo-journalist Alex crash-lands upon.
When the pair meet at an airport to news of their flight’s cancellation, they decide to charter a small plane to ensure their various commitments are met – his, a surgery on a 10-year-old boy in the morning, hers, her own wedding.
However, their pilot (Beau Bridges) suffers a stroke mid-flight when the weather turns and plummets the plane atop a mountain, killing himself and ripping them both from the fabric of their daily lives.
With little food, no communication and a trusty golden retriever for company, the duo is forced into a fight for survival in the icy conditions.
The Mountain Between Us is nothing more than a pulpy romance novel that really lacks the spark between the main duo to help carry it off.
Blessed with ludicrous edges (the pilot’s killed, the seat-belted passengers are injured, but an unsecured dog emerges unscathed), it asks a lot from its audience for its leaps and bounds of logic, and delivers them very little in return.
Pushing its “the heart is just a muscle” line early on, as uttered by Idris Elba’s Ben, it’s clear that the ice between the pair is going to thaw as well as the snow falls outside. With Winslet’s impulsive Alex facing off against Elba’s guarded and cautious Ben, the clash of ideologies is obvious from the start.
And despite the pristine shots of the mountains (all crisp whites) and the copious shots of the dog reacting to various moments, there’s little in this movie to fully engage.
It’s a shame given how stellar and dependable both Winslet and Elba can be.
Both have a screen presence but can’t manage to negotiate the trappings of the script which saddle them either with clunky character exposition or behaviour which is increasingly unrealistic.
As the survival story continues, the film’s final extended coda is perhaps a welcome change to what you’d expect of films such as this, but it’s here that the truly romantic pulpiness comes out and laces the white of the snowcaps with another lashing of a white substance – a saccharine sugary gloop.
It’s a disappointment that despite the talent involved, this overlong (bizarrely at 112 mins, it feels slow at times) two-hander lacks the depth to help you invest in the love story. Both Elba and Winslet are character actors of pure calibre and class, but this film doesn’t bring their best to the screen.
Ultimately, it’s less a peaky blinder, more a Meh-ntain between us which emerges.
The Mountain Between Us
Cast: Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Dermot Mulroney, Beau Bridges, a Golden Retriever
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Running time: 112 minutes