The Mountain Between Us
- James Mottram
- 2 October 2017
Kate Winslet and Idris Elba lack chemistry in this survival story turned unconvincing romance
Adapted from the novel by Charles Martin, The Mountain Between Us is a survivor romance that simmers but never reaches boiling point. Marking the English-language debut of director Hany Abu-Assad (Omar), the story starts promisingly enough as two strangers stranded at an airport in Salt Lake City make a fateful decision.
Kate Winslet plays Alex Martin, a photojournalist for The Guardian who is heading home to get married. Idris Elba is Dr Ben Bass, a surgeon travelling to Denver to perform an operation. When bad weather grounds their flight, Alex accosts Ben and suggests they hire a charter plane. But when the pilot (Beau Bridges) suffers a midair stroke, it plummets into the mountains.
Abu-Assad stages the crash thrillingly, one that leaves Ben and an injured Alex on the mountainside with just the pilot's dog for company. The backdrops are spectacular and the decision to shoot in real mountainous terrain really pays off, dwarfing the actors in scale. But it's a film where the physical assets are far more convincing than the emotional ones.
Initially at loggerheads about the best way to survive, the impetuous Alex and the cautious Ben gradually pick their way through hazardous snowscapes, desperately clinging to each other for hope and heat. Where Mountain begins to falter is with the inevitable romance that springs up amid the trauma. Exploring the notion that attraction can form at the bleakest of times, it never really coalesces into anything credible.
Winslet and Elba fundamentally lack chemistry, though it doesn't help that they're saddled with characters who are neither well-drawn nor interesting enough to root for. In truth, you feel more attachment to the ever-sunny golden retriever that accompanies them. By the time we reach the film's grating postscript, this will be one Mountain you'll never want to see again.
General release from Fri 6 Oct.