Director Hany Abu-Assad brings us The Mountain Between Us: a survival meets romance meets adventure film based off the similarly titled book by Charles Martin. The story follows photo-journalist Alex (Winslet) and Neurosurgeon Ben (Elba) who, after being caught up in a plane crash, are left to face a man versus nature struggle. Along the way they face challenges like battling against severe weather conditions, serious injuries and a vast expanse of wilderness that cuts them off from civilisation.
This film has some high points; some beautiful cinematography and a mostly engaging journey with moments of action and suspense. However, the end product just isn’t that memorable. What is disappointing about this film is that I really wanted to enjoy it but I ultimately felt let down. This is primarily because Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are such talented and multi-faceted actors, it seems like such a missed opportunity to squander their acting by coming together on a script that features so many implausible circumstances, instances of awkward humour and predictability. In fact, it reminded me more of a Nicholas Sparks adaptation than the gritty survival romance story portrayed in the trailers.
While it is understandable that being in such an intense and desperate situation heightens emotion, the romance between the two characters didn’t seem to flow naturally, coming across forced and abrupt. The characters are constantly arguing, making up and then arguing again, and combined with a lack of humour between the two, having them repeatedly at odds with each other made their romance seem implausible. Adding to this sense of confusion is the fact that you have no idea when you’re watching this film just how long the characters have been in a particular place until they address it themselves. This made the transition between scenes quite jarring and as a result the pacing seemed a bit off.
To compare, when looking at a survival film like The Revenant the viewing experience is tense because it feels like the stakes are so high and you genuinely feel like the characters could be in danger at any point, a feeling that The Mountain Between Us sadly lacked. A lot of the dangerous situations the characters found themselves in were either conveniently resolved, improbable, or just didn’t give the viewer enough time to judge the situation and feel that sense of potential peril. While this fault is not down to the actors themselves, the lack of tension, implausible situations and forced romance regrettably made The Mountain Between Us a pretty forgettable and disappointing watch.
(Image courtesy of Kimberley French)