Desperate to depart a congested airport, photographer Alex (Kate Winslet) and brain surgeon Ben (Idris Elba) board a tiny plane and fly into a blizzard. After they crash in snowy mountains, these total strangers soon must depend on each other for dear life. Will they survive? Will they be rescued? Will they fall in love? And what can we take away from their icy trek to defy death?
RATED: The Mountain Between Us is rated M for mature themes, a sex scene, and occasional coarse language.
AUDIENCE: The Mountain Between Us sounds a bit like Titanic meets 127 Hours or Touching The Void, but it’s mainly for lovers of sentimental love stories, rather than gripping survival stories.
WHAT’S GOOD: The mountainous scenery is stunning and Oscar Winner Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are great actors. The plane crash itself is powerfully filmed and, occasionally, Alex and Ben’s death-defying trek becomes slightly tense. Unlike plenty of movies, the last 20 minutes of The Mountain Between Us go some way to making up for the dull and one-dimensional drama that led up to it.
WHAT’S NOT: A wonky tale that favours simplistic mush, The Mountain Between Us isn’t interested in detailed exploration of two strangers who are thrust together into a life-or-death relationship. Instead, beautiful people Winslet and Elba (largely wasted with underdone characters) traipse through beautiful landscapes and don’t really come up against engrossing obstacles or significant peaks of deep reflection. Amazingly, Alex and Ben barely discuss meaty stuff like life, death, meaning and purpose. Most time is spent on Alex and Ben trying to get out of what the film itself sets up as a virtually impossible situation… with the odd focus upon their deliberate differences, or some selfless actions.
SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: The final 20 minutes give tasty glimpses of how self-sacrifice and crisis situations can forge relationships beyond the understanding of anyone not involved in them. But like how Ben mentions God once but then it is instantly dropped like a hot potato in the snow, The Mountain Between Us just hints at issues and insights; it doesn’t explore them. I’m still amazed that more was not milked from the scenario of an intense situation and its psychological, spiritual and emotional impact on the people involved. What sort of bond is forged? If you survive together, what do you do next? Does defying death lead you to embrace life more? The Mountain Between Us might have been more memorable and engrossing if it had given us more of those human insights, rather than oodles of snow and credibility-stretching survival scenes.
RELEASE DATE: Now showing