Between its thrilling action scenes, beautiful mountainous landscapes and abundance of passionate acting, The Mountain Between Us keeps its audience visually entertained. However, the serious conditions of mountain survival are undermined by the tongue-in-cheek script and time-worn romance tale, which take too much prevalence in this film’s development.
Hany Abu-Assad directs a romantic survival-adventure film starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. After an unsuccessful attempt at catching their flight back to New York, Alex Martin (Winslet) and Dr. Ben Bass (Elba) coerce a pilot into allowing them to board a charter plane instead. But when their pilot suffers an unexpected stroke mid-flight, the wintery conditions of the High Uintas Wilderness overcome the plane, and it crashes into the snowy mountainous peaks below. Alex, Ben and the pilot’s dog must then learn to survive the storm long enough to be rescued, or die trying.
The film’s moments of suspense are forthcoming – the script was creative in forming a range of different dangerous situations that kept our hearts racing. However, what starts as subtle moments of intimacy between Alex and Ben transforms into a full-blown romance plot that completely steers the direction of the film. The film quickly turns from a tale of thrilling survival to a banal love story.
The director’s decision to empower his audience with a ‘love conquers all (even the treacherous conditions of a snowy mountain)’ attitude might pull at our heartstrings, but makes many of the tribulations of their survival very hard to take seriously. The fact that both characters survive the entire ordeal suggests that the director ultimately cared more about telling a heartwarming story of two lovers than in creating a danger-struck cinematography. This does little to affect to the raw entertainment value of the film, but such thematic contradictions make viewers narrow their suspension of disbelief.
Even so, Winslet and Elba act well. Their moments of passion are heartfelt, and although their character interactions are neither original nor well-paced (it takes weeks of travelling together for Alex to learn basic pieces of information about Ben), they are executed confidently and add a light-heartedness to the film’s recurring motifs of death and broken relationships. Many other actors would have struggled to carry the film as well as Winslet and Elba did.
Visually the film is executed fantastically. White scenic landscapes form wonderful photographic compilations on-screen. Even in more intimate settings – the cosy abandoned cottage and dimly-lit cave that Kate and Ben briefly inhabit, producers still manage to depict the power and magnificence of the winter storm that brews outside.
The Mountain Between Us is, for all of its perplexing plot decisions and cliché script-writing, a fairly enjoyable motion picture that keeps us entertained from start to finish.