There's a mountain between this formulaic film and a memorable romance.
The Mountain Between Us
Director: Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now)
Screenplay: J. Mills Goodloe, Chris Weitz, from Charles Martin novel
Cast: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Kate Winslet (Titanic)
Runtime: 1 hr 52 min
by John DeSando
Two factors save The Mountain Between Us from romantic oblivion: Breathtaking cinematography (Mandy Walker) and two fine actors, Idris Elba as Ben and Kate Winslet as Alex. They are lost in the cold snow somewhere in the mountains of Idaho or Colorado after a small plane accident, but fortunately he’s a neurosurgeon and she’s a plucky photographer. Lucky about his medical skills.
If Nicholas Sparks could do lost in the snow, then he could have written this rather trite and predictable romance. Why wouldn’t they fall in love with no one else around and such attractive people to boot? That they both are vulnerable becomes obvious; that they will fall in love is a given of the genre and maybe of survival itself when there’s no one else around.
Lest I forget, a loveable dog also is a tie to bind. To be fair, director Hany Abu-Assad and his writers J.Mills Goodloe and Chris Weitz keep the real romance from happening through at least half the film. During that blessed time we can enjoy the spectacle and the survival techniques. Always with the thought of what we would do in those circumstances.
More outrageous than the clichéd circumstance is the fact that she needs medical help consistently where he just needs it toward the end. Why then does the old trope of the damsel in distress come to mind? Why not, in a film shameless with tear jerking.
He just lost his wife, and she doesn’t seem overly joyed about her impending wedding and her husband, Mark (Dermot Mulroney). So you know what’s going to happen right to the end.
I am happy to see Canada so beautifully captured on the screen. As for me, I felt captured in a melodramatic survival story from which I needed rescue.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com