While The Mountain Between Us flirts with being tough and unsentimental, it’s actually all a bit contrived and soppy, with only stars Kate Winslet and Idris Elba saving us from a complete snow job.
When their flight is cancelled, two strangers — a photojournalist named Alex Martin (Kate Winslet), who’s racing to her wedding, and a doctor named Ben Bass (Idris Elba), who’s racing to perform surgery — team up and charter a small plane flown by Walter (Beau Bridges, Jeff Bridges’ brother), and he promptly has a stroke. They crash in the High Uintas Wilderness (British Columbia, of course), and Ben shows his practical and medical skills as he treats the unconscious Alex’s bad leg wound and cares for Walter’s whimpering labrador, which you just know will pull through even if one of the protagonists doesn’t.
When the near-incapacitated Alex comes to, Winslet and Elba have some strong dialogue scenes, and there are moderately impressive sequences where she fends off a mountain lion and he nearly slides of an FX cliff, but the creeping familiarity really kicks in. They argue a lot — she says he should leave and if he comes back then all well and good, but he refuses due to some guessable script tricks.
Eventually the pair make their halting and hobbling way through the snowy countryside as, you guessed it, they try not to succumb to Sexy Survivor Syndrome. But come on: this is Kate Winslet and Idris Elba we’re talking about, both of whom are stunners even when they’re dying from starvation, exhaustion and the genuinely freezing conditions.
A production that stopped and started for some years (and might have, at various times, starred Michael Fassbender or Charlie Hunnam alongside Margot Robbie or Rosamund Pike), this is handled capably enough by Dutch/Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, with strong work from Winslet and Elba, even if it tends to feel a bit like a TV movie and offers a coda that might well have been added on after the fact.
Rated M. The Mountain Between Us is in cinemas now.