The Mountain Between Us (2017)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
I, for one, was thrilled just to see Kate Winslet and Idris Elba starring together, no matter what the project.
Finds itself living between a campy Lifetime film with a solid production budget and a well-acted dramatic story of love and loss. There's a good movie buried somewhere in this snow.
Winslet and Elba sell the heck out of this movie, and keep it watchable and intriguing, long after it overstays its welcome.
This could be one of the more absurd scripts brought to the screen in 2017.
Oh, if only I could tell you how this ends. If only I could tell you where this goes. Unintended laughter in the film's final moments leaves you with all the wrong feelings as you exit the theater.
Honestly, I see no point. The film has nothing profound to say, seems to take a movie's worth of themes and ideas and smiles and says, "Nah, just kidding!"
When two strangers discover they each have an urgent need to get home, they charter a flight out of a Utah airport and crash land in a remote mountainside with no connection to the outside world in the new romantic drama The Mountain Between Us.
Wow. Cool. Alright. So, like, now what?
After a pretty compelling beginning, director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar) paints his movie into a corner with little place to go after 15 minutes or so. Largely a two-hander, starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet and an unnamed dog (!), the film has little truly to offer viewers once the two actors come to and realize the reality of their surroundings.
On the day of the fateful flight, Elba's Dr. Ben Bass is a neurosurgeon who needs to get to Baltimore the next morning to perform pediatric brain surgery. Winslet's photojournalist Alex Martin, is wrapping up a photo shoot for The Guardian, and is flying to Colorado on the eve of her wedding to Mark (Dermot Mulroney). Ben agrees to fly with Alex to Colorado, decides he will take a red-eye, and Alex foots the cost of a charter flight with congenial pilot Walter (Beau Bridges).
SPOILER ALERT: They don't get to Colorado.
Adapted from a polarizing novel by Charles Martin, The Mountain Between Us is a movie which finds a pulse consistently with its two lead actors commanding the screen. Winslet and Elba are a great pairing, their chemistry instant and engaging, and their sheer acting ability far surpasses throat-clenching, stilted dialogue and a number of contrived and melodramatic situations.
Along the way, it is easy to become intoxicated by the rhythm of the movie. Winslet and Elba certainly elevate the material and veteran cinematographer Mandy Walker (Hidden Figures) provides her best work to date, giving us breathtaking looks at the vacant and imposing mountain which becomes something of a character in and of itself.
As Ben and Alex work together, they reveal more and more about themselves, but also seem to constantly run up against struggles. Often this involves one specific character constantly getting hurt and knocked out and the other individual doing everything they can to bring them back to a level of consciousness. Watching this unfold becomes exhausting and makes one of these two folks shoulder an enormous burden in trying to keep this tandem a twosome, and not a solitary act with a dog.
Ultimately, secrets are revealed, emotions are amped up, and because Winslet and Elba are excellent at their jobs, we care about these two surviving far more than we should or deserve to. Goofy dialogue and silly conflicts are in abundance. And yet, we cannot help but wonder if they will run out of food, have enough water, and ever get off this mountain, that exists, well, you know, between them and stuff.
Without spoiling anything, the movie shifts from a snow-capped mountaintop to a dilapidated residence, other settings eventually, and fills the gaps with light drama and conversation. Even with a destroyed two-prop plane, no cell phone connection to the outside world, scant food and struggling health, the movie never really elevates its stakes. We watch, wondering when the gig might be up, and, despite knowing better, we still swoon for the melodramatic nonsense that feels right at home on the Lifetime Network, or a weekend cable television movie marathon.
In the last act, the movie devolves into a wacky tale of love and loss, normalizing lives, while heightening the likely unintended laughter originating from an audience. To be fair, The Mountain Between Us reminds us that Winslet and Elba can act their way through anything they set their mind to and producing tears, casting long looks, and pure despair can radiate out of these two believably and convincingly.
And just when they have us in their clutches, a slovenly swelling of music arrives, characters begin to question everything about themselves, and we get a moment designed to send us out of the theater wiping tears. To be honest though, we might be wiping them away for all the wrong reasons.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Beau Bridges, Dermot Mulroney.
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Written by: Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe
Adapted from the novel "The Mountain Between Us" by Charles Martin
Release Date: October 6, 2017
20th Century Fox