*This month, Idris Elba and Kate Winslet star in “The Mountain Between Us,” as two perfect strangers stuck in the Colorado wilderness, after their aging pilot suffers a stroke mid-flight and crashes their charted plane.
The premise has so much potential…two strangers, in a terrifying and hopeless situation, forced to work together to survive.
Instead we end up with a disjointed, problematic, inauthentic, made-for-TV-in-tone sappy drama with an ending that is nothing short of cringe-worthy.
Anytime two people of opposing genders are in a movie like this one, you can bet there’s a love story folded into the plot.
Their romance feels forced and inauthentic. Elba (plays Ben) and Winslet (plays Alex) have frosty chemistry at best. A struggle to make sense of each other, turns into complete annoyance, which suddenly feels like an old married couple.
The film pushes an ideology of them falling in love but in actuality they fall victim to a pseudo-Stockholm Syndrome out of a deep fear of dying together in the middle of nowhere. This is not love.
Aside from the plot and character development issues, the narrative is problematic. An affront to the cause for feminism, Alex’s “emergency” is her wedding – to a man she doesn’t bother calling or texting before takeoff. Ben is a neurosurgeon unable to express himself.
When the bride to be takes issue with the doctors ability to open up, she intrusively goes through his belongings and finds out his marriage has ended. The “love story” seems to be the result of a classic and troubling need, for a female, to help a male acknowledge and deal with his pain. Adhering even further to damaging gender norms, Elba’s character does the heavy survival lifting.
Only mildly injured upon impact, he nurses (convenient as he’s a physician) Winselt’s character back to good health, at minimum, on two separate occasions – one in which she behaved carelessly. She expresses little to no gratitude until the end of the flick, instead regularly making demands and even scolding him. In a tantrum early on, Alex leaves Ben with no food or extra clothing – the tragic genius runs after her in an unclear state, rooted in either fear of being alone or desperation – but certainly not love as the motion picture attempts to suggest. To make matters worse, after they are rescued, she rejects Dr. Ben.
On a technical note, the design elements are spectacular! The crash scene is shockingly realistic. The cinematography is unreal – several stills from the movie could hang in a photography gallery or appear in an issue of National Geographic; they capture the expansive beauty of the location with a compellingly severe contemplation. The duos fashion sense rivals a Pendleton or L.L. Bean catalogue spread, the music and sound do a great job of submerging the viewer into their desperation and triumph.
There is a bright side…Adventure dramas like “The Mountain Between Us” always force some hard personal inventory. It causes one to ponder how they’d survive a similar experience. Lately, in this country, it seems we experience a small disaster every few weeks, feature films like this require us to explore and expand our limits and think through our own strengths and weaknesses.
20th Century Fox’s “The Mountain Between Us” is currently in theaters.