The ‘plane crash survival drama’ sub-genre has been visited many times on screen over the years, from The Flight of the Phoenix and Alive to Cast Away and TV’s Lost. Now, twice Oscar-nominated director Hany Abu-Assad aims to put a fresh spin on it – a romantic drama.
Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are two strangers stranded in the snowy mountains of Utah, with only each other and the pilot’s dog for company. What follows is a formulaic and predictable tale in both its survival and love story aspects.
As journalist Alex and surgeon Ben realise no immediate rescue is coming and they must trek through their harsh environment to safety, they face the all-too-familiar perils of wild animals, thin ice, cliff edges and more. And none of it even feels all that perilous, just perfunctory action set-pieces between the rather stilted human interaction.
It’s really no spoiler to say that the pair begin to grow close, but the script seems to throw their differing emotional states in almost at random as it builds a relationship that doesn’t feel earned due to a lack of real chemistry. Winslet and Elba are both excellent, given the material they have to work with (though their golden retriever companion steals altogether too much attention).
The Mountain Between Us is beautifully shot on location, giving a genuine sense of isolation and remoteness. The plane crash scene early on is also a standout, stitched together as one continuous, constantly rotating shot which captures the terror of the moment.
An enjoyable enough watch with superb cinematography, elevated by reliable performances from two leads who are in virtually every scene. But The Mountain Between Us is ultimately let down by a weak, sappy screenplay and a disappointing final act that may have you scoffing into your popcorn.
CAST: Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Beau Bridges, Dermot Mulroney
DIRECTOR: Hany Abu-Assad
WRITERS: Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe (screenplay), Charles Martin (based upon the novel by)
SYNOPSIS: Stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow covered mountain. When they realise help is not coming, they embark on a perilous journey across hundreds of miles of wilderness.