Movie Review: 'The Mountain Between Us' is a plane crash of a film

Shot in Canada in freezing conditions, the scenery is the only authentic thing about Idris Elba and Kate Winslet's romantic survivalist drama

22 October 2017 - 00:00 By Tim Robey

In The Mountain Between Us, there ain't no mountain high enough, no valley low enough, nor a script absurd enough to keep Kate Winslet and Idris Elba from saving each other's lives - or indeed, their movie.
Romantically speaking, the best thing that ever happened to these two characters - total strangers who meet at Salt Lake City airport, urgently need to reschedule their cancelled flight, and join forces to charter one - is watching the affable pilot (Beau Bridges) suffer a perfectly-timed stroke and send them plummeting into the Rockies.
At first, being stranded in freezing wilderness counts as a solid inconvenience. Alex (Winslet) is meant to be getting married the next day, and has no way to contact the groom. Dr Ben (Elba) is meant to be performing brain surgery on a 10-year-old. Walter (Bridges) dies.
The passenger who preserves a reasonably sunny outlook is the latter's golden retriever, which waddles around the fuselage of the crashed plane blissfully unaware that he's just one bag of almonds and a few cookies away from being their only viable food source.

Remarkably light wounds, all things considered, enable these star-crossed travellers to hobble together on an icy trek to civilisation, during which time they bond, bicker and inch ever closer to sharing body warmth with benefits. (Not with the dog.)
Adapted from a surely horrendous novel by Charles Martin, the script, by Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe, is a kind of balsa-wood replica with a few toe-curling clangers lying in wait, especially when Ben's job is broached to help them talk around their feelings. "The heart? It's just a muscle," we hear him demur, while flexing a few others.
Winslet's likeability in extreme states of hypothermia, distress and emotional crisis has been more or less a given since Titanic, and she finally has the good sense here not to hog that wonky bit of flotsam all to herself.
At least as appealing is Elba, who may never have seemed less self-regarding in either a choice of role or his choices playing it. He looks excellent with fresh snow in his beard, aces the sherpa-action-man requirements, and breezes his way through the cute banter with gravelly panache.
WATCH | The trailer for The Mountain Between Us..

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.