The Mountain Between Us

Even as the snow intensifies, the temperature drops, and the provisions become scarce, you never get much sense that the protagonists in The Mountain Between Us are in much real danger.

That’s the primary issue with this survival drama in which a pair of committed performances become lost amid a series of improbable twists and chilly contrivances.

The film begins at an Idaho airport, where a snowstorm cancels an evening flight for both a bride-to-be Alex (Kate Winslet) and brain surgeon Ben (Idris Elba), who each have pressing business the following morning. They meet over Alex’s idea to split the cost of chartering a private plane through a pilot (Beau Bridges) willing to take the risk.

Then the plane goes down in the Rockies, killing the pilot but sparing both passengers, along with the pilot’s loyal dog. Ben and Alex try to balance the initial panic with clear-eyed resolve in the face of deteriorating weather, limited amounts of food and clothing, and no means of communication with the outside world.

As hours turn into days and then weeks, their desperation increases as the likelihood of a rescue dwindles. Their relationship deepens as much out of necessity as any mutual attraction.

Israeli director Hany Abu-Asad (The Idol), making his English-language debut, contributes some visual highlights. The tense plane-crash sequence in a snowstorm isn’t for uneasy fliers, and the scenic mountain landscapes are frequently breathtaking.

Elba and Winslet, relying heavily on body language and facial expressions given the sparse dialogue, establish a reasonable chemistry in the wintry conditions, playing characters who demonstrate resilience and resourcefulness under the most harrowing of circumstances.

However, the deliberately paced screenplay — based on a novel by Charles Martin — struggles to maintain its suspense in the snowcapped peaks. The central premise feels overly calculated, even if it stems from common fears and frustrations related to air travel. At least the film tries to steer clear of clichés about wilderness survival.

The Mountain Between Us rarely feels authentic in either words or actions. As its characters become more reliant upon one another and share personal secrets, it only leads to eye-rolling melodrama. Emotionally, the result freezes us out.


Rated PG-13, 109 minutes.