Starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, "The Mountain Between Us" tells the story of two people who would otherwise never know each other and their surprisingly romantic struggle for survival.
The adventure begins with Kate Winslet, as Alex, failing to get a flight to her wedding, which is the next day.
Idris Elba, as Ben, is having a similar problem. He is a neurosurgeon who has to operate on a 10-year-old boy the next day but can’t catch the same flight.
The two meet, and charter a flight to their nondescript destination together. During their otherwise pleasant flight, the pilot has a medical issue and crashes the plane.
This scene is actually the best, most realistically tense, part of the whole movie. The plane crash is shot very well, giving the scene a worried, manic tone.
The two leads give very convincing performances, as their characters – two-dimensional though they may be – do behave according to how they will be established later in the film. Ben tries to help the pilot – given his job as a neurosurgeon – and Alex tries to radio for help, in alignment with her eagerness to take action earlier in the film.
In fact, the best aspects of the film are the leads’ performances, as they consistently play off each other convincingly.
After the crash, Ben awakens and fixes the now-unconscious Alex’s broken leg. She regains consciousness 36 hours later. Ben tells her they have enough food in the plane until they get rescued, but after an indeterminate amount of time passes, and both are still in the plane, their food is practically gone. This prompts Alex to try to find help. Ben gets worried and searches for her.
On his way, Ben finds the tail section of the plane with radio equipment inside, but it is broken, making their rescue almost impossible. Although his hopes are dashed, things start to look up again, as Ben finds Alex. After reuniting, the two continue on.
It’s at this point that the plot goes from believable and engaging to improbable and just a little ridiculous. "The Mountain Between Us" goes from a gripping story of survival to a romance fantasy fan fiction between Winslet and Elba.
Now that they’ve made one failed attempt at getting rescued, they both seem to forget they need to be rescued.
After walking for about three weeks, they find the staple cliche in many a sappy romance novel: the deserted cabin in the woods.
There, the two barely even consider their survival, and instead just play house for a while. As they develop their romance, they show little sense of urgency about their slim prospects for rescue.
The film pays little attention to how the two are able to survive this long, or even just how they get food.
Ben and Alex’s "struggle" for survival ends in a way that, in my opinion, is cheap and far too coincidental. Ben rolls down a hill, and lands in the perfect spot to see a saw mill.
Yes, while the first quarter of the film’s mission was to show just how alone Alex and Ben are, and just how unlikely it is that of something like this will happen, the plot at this point just gives up.
This cop-out ending serves to show just how shallow the "stranded in the tundra" premise is, since these two can accidently stumble onto a rescue opportunity so easily.
This gives the audience the idea that this film is really just a two-hour excuse for Elba and Winslet to share some romantic scenes, which would be fine if the film were not built on a so serious a premise.
One other solace viewers will find here – other than the acting – is the cinematography. It’s honestly unfortunate that a film with such a poorly executed plot looks this beautiful. Many of the shots used here – and the scenery itself – deserve to be in a better film.
And really, what else can be said? "The Mountain Between Us" is a well acted, beautifully shot plane crash of a film.
Although it has a promising opening act, the film succumbs to sappy, shallow romance-novel cliches that not only strip the plot of its theme of survival, but serve to degrade it further by having its characters forget about being rescued entirely until the disappointing – and frankly insulting – ending. I don’t care about spoiling the ending, because it just shows just how little the plot actually matters at all.
If you want to see Kate Winslet or Idris Elba act convincingly, you’d probably have a better time watching anything else with them than this.
Quinn Zack is a junior at Hamburg High School.