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Review: The Mountain Between Us

There’s plenty to mock and ridicule and dislike about The Mountain Between Us. And yet… there’s a certain entertainment value in watching a combination meet-cute/disaster flick when it stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. The two play virtual strangers who get to know each other quite well as the lone human survivors of a small plane crash into a frozen mountainside in the middle of nowhere.

To say their flight was doomed from the start would be an understatement. Among the clues, in the first five minutes of the film: there’s a major storm rolling into Idaho and the last flights out are all booked; our protagonists absolutely must get to their respective destinations by tomorrow or else – she’ll miss her own wedding and he’ll miss performing a critical surgery; there’s a folksy pilot (Beau Bridges) with a two-seater ready and willing to fly them to Denver in plenty of time to make their connecting flights home; the co-pilot seat is occupied by a cute dog; and — the pièce de résistance – said pilot doesn’t feel the need to file a flight plan. (c’mon now, seriously??!!)

What more can I say, except: “Brace for impact.”

Winslet (The Dressmaker, Titanic) plays Alex Martin, a photojournalist with a fiancé named Mark (Dermot Mulroney) who we don’t get to know well enough to care about one way or another, and Elba plays Ben Bass, a neurosurgeon haunted by a personal tragedy that is revealed in a line of dialogue so cheesy and predictable that I muttered it to myself just seconds before it was said on-screen.

Each character brings a certain skillset and resourcefulness to the table – or in this case, the mountain. And each has their moments of doubt and despair – about each other, and their situation. But those moments are fleeting. Their survival depends on mutual trust, cooperation and… a burgeoning love perhaps? The Mountain Between Us is based on a “contemporary romance” novel by Charles Martin. So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or a brain surgeon, to figure out where this story is headed. Sorry Mark.

Generally speaking, The Mountain Between Us is the type of movie you’d easily watch on an airplane to kill time – if it wasn’t about a plane crash. But you get the idea. It’s simple and sappy formulaic fare with two engaging actors who scrape together just enough chemistry to make it work, despite a rather dreadful script and painfully drawn-out ending. My suggestion: if you are keen to see it, fortify yourself with a beverage of choice (e.g. red wine or spiked hot chocolate in the winter), a big bowl of popcorn, and viewing companions who can cheerfully embrace the absurdity of it all.

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