Romance, survival in 'The Mountain'

AP
“The Mountain Between Us” is about two strangers who survive a plane crash only to end up in the unforgiving snowy Utah mountains, with no cell reception and precious little food. 
AP

“The Mountain Between Us” is about two strangers who survive a plane crash only to end up in the unforgiving snowy Utah mountains, with no cell reception and precious little food. So they do what comes naturally. They try to eat each other.

No, no, no. Are you crazy? They fall in love — kinda, sorta, maybe. Actually, perhaps they should have tried something else because this romance novel-meets-survival story doesn’t really succeed at either, despite fine performances by Kate Winslet and Idris Elba.

Based on Charles Martin’s same-named novel, the film is ably directed by Hany Abu-Assad and centers on the chance meeting at an Idaho airport of a photojournalist hoping to get home in time for her wedding and a neurosurgeon needing to get back East for an important operation. An incoming storm shuts down all commercial flights and forces them to seek a charter plane, and it becomes one of the worst advertising for charter flights in history (Quick, sell your stocks).

The pilot fails to file a flight plan and then crashes after having a heart attack (thanks, Beau Bridges). The crash sequence is remarkable and we’re terrifyingly trapped in the fuselage watching it unfold. Our couple, and an adorable lab owned by the pilot, emerge battered but alive, hundreds of miles from anything.

Ti Gong

Idris Elba plays a methodical neurosurgeon, and Kate Winslet as an impulsive photojournalist in “The Mountain Between Us,” who survive a plane crash ending up in a snowy mountain and fall in love.

The film then somewhat unsteadily balances a cute, getting-to-know-you budding respect between two tentative lovers and the raw ravages of survival, which includes cougars, thin ice and deep snow. There’s a bit of “Cast Away” and “The Edge” here, as if directed by Bear Grylls.

The screenplay by Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe makes our couple opposites — she’s impulsive and has a deep pool of caring and empathy, while he’s methodical. He focuses on the brain, after all, and considers the heart just “a muscle.”

He thinks it’s wise to stay with the plane wreckage until a rescue team arrives; she thinks they have to venture out and rescue themselves. “Look, I don’t want to die up here because you’re too scared to take a risk,” she tells him. He, in turn, calls her “reckless” and “selfish.”

Abu-Assad and cinematographer Mandy Walker are skillful at showing the freezing dangers our heroes face and do not romanticize the outdoors. They pace the growing affection between the man and woman nicely, too, not rushing the romance there either. 


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