This one came out a while ago, but if you’re like me and fortunate enough to live in a town big enough to have what we call a “cheap” movie theater, you might still have a chance to see it on the big screen before a small one. Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
The Mountain Between Us stars Idris Elba as Ben and Kate Winslet as Alex, two strangers just trying to get out of Idaho. Can anyone relate? I’ve never been myself, but I digress. All commercial flights out of the airport are grounded due to weather, but Alex thinks she’s found a way to get to Denver and from there back to New York in time for her, wait for it, wedding. In the airport she overhears Ben explain he has to get back to perform surgery on a patient. This must be what prompts her to offer Ben her solution and the two end up chartering a plane together.
Sure the weather looks bumpy but what really sucks is the massive stroke that hits their pilot (Beau Bridges.) First, the tail gets ripped off and then the rest of the plane comes down. Ben awakes first and goes about the business of doctoring Alex, the only other survivor besides their deceased pilot’s dog. Time passes and Alex finally wakes up. Stuck together these two strangers now have to rely on one another in the hopes that they’ll somehow survive, but it doesn’t take long for them to start clashing. Alex doesn’t think anyone is coming for them and wants to head down the mountain. Ben is sure the beacon located in the tail of the plane will lead a search party to them, all they have to do is stay put.
Alex leaves. But with a broken leg, she doesn’t get far, which gives Ben time to catch up. On his way down he passes the wreckage of the tail, the beacon destroyed. Their only hope lies down the mountain. In theory, this sounds simple, but for anyone who’s ever been hiking off trail, you know it’s more complicated than that. There’s getting down and there’s getting down safely. Sometimes you have to go back up because the way you’ve taken leads to a sheer drop off.
Alone in the woods with only one other person for company, the film suggests you might want to get to know each other real quick or you could die. Ben wears a ring, but Alex notices he doesn’t talk about his wife. This leads to uncomfortable questions and the occasional breach of privacy. Alex finds a picture and listens to a private recording. Ben is forced to admit his wife left him. In a moment of comfort, the two share a kiss and then a lot more. They’ve started to fall for each other about the time they make a final push down the mountain to find signs of civilization and eventual rescue.
Beautiful Cinematography. There are some wonderful shots of snow covered peaks and untouched mountain wildness that remind you of what a huge, beautiful planet we live on.
Elba and Winslet. Idris Elba and Kate Winslet give great performances in the film. There’s wonderful chemistry between the two.
The Dog. He added a much needed third-wheel element to the story and in more than one case also added an element of humor to the film, so I’m glad he survived the crash.
Convenience. I enjoyed the film, but there seemed to be an awful lot of coincidental events. Ben doesn’t want to leave, but when he does he finds the beacon smashed and useless. About the time Alex falls through some ice, Ben discovers a run-down cabin in the woods with a couple cans of soup.
Fear. Along the same lines of convenience, I never once felt like the two leads weren’t going to make it to the end of the movie. Now, I could have been wrong, and it might have been a very different picture, but it wasn’t. I confess I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, but that doesn’t mean I might not have wanted to feel that way. For about a minute. Maybe.
The Final Scene. I know no one’s paying to see under the top, but it was. Well, it was. The last moment of the film is the final chance to get your point across to your audience, and I was hoping for something more.
Overall, I liked the movie and would recommend it to fans of romance. There were moments of suspense as well and an overall theme of survival, but to me, they came second to the two characters being forced into a situation where they had to work together to achieve a common goal. In the end, one character tells the other, and I’m paraphrasing, maybe we survived because we fell in love.