Running Time: 1 Hour 52 Minutes
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
The Mountain Between Us is a film which I knew going into, I was going to love. A survival/love story about a plane crash and snowy mountains? Yes please. Idris Elba and Kate Winslet? YES please! And the best thing about this film? It doesn’t disappoint.
When a cancelled flight stands between Alex (Kate Winslet) and her wedding, she ropes Ben (Idris Elba), the surgeon who needs to get home to perform emergency surgery, into hiring a small plane with her. With the (slightly contrived) stroke of their pilot, the plane crashes into a snowy and uninhabited mountain range, seriously injuring Alex.
The rest of the film follows Alex and Ben and the pilots dog ‘Dog’, as they attempt to make it back to the real world. There are moments where this drags, but they are swiftly handled by attacking cougars and breaking ice- the mountains are far more dangerous than they look, and there are many more threats to life than just the cold. The addition of the dog is a clever one- it breaks the film away from the intense drama it might have been, and gives it a breath of life and humour in the darker moments.
Aside from a few minor characters who give a bit of depth to the beginning and end of the film, this is predominantly a two-hander. The performances given by Elba and Winslet are perfect- (but what would you expect?). I only hope that The Mountain Between Us hasn’t been released too early for award season- as both are deserving nominees. Idris Elba is the man- there is no doubt about that. He plays heartbroken, strong, comforting and desperate convincingly and with ease. Kate Winslet morphs into her character. She is consistently brilliant and makes you feel every emotion with her- neither performance can be faulted.
The cinematography is beautiful, but the scenery of the film lends itself to this particular aspect. The cold could have perhaps been played up more- there are no blue fingers or onset frostbite- and is it too convenient that both Alex and Ben are so appropriately dressed for the weather conditions?
The film is probably fifteen minutes too long- nearly two hours is a lot for two actors to carry on their shoulders- especially when the story is as simple as this. The chemistry between Elba and Winslet saves this, and as conflicted as you are about Alex’s obligation to her fiancé (again, Winslet’s unique ability to prompt the audience empathise completely with her character), the audience is always rooting for these two characters to end up together.
The Mountain Between Us is exactly what it says on the tin. It isn’t perfect, but it more than makes up for what it lacks by excelling in what it has. It’s entertaining without being pretentious or frivolous- making this film one of the best in cinemas now.