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The Mountain Between Us starring Idris Elba & Kate Winslet: My take on the movie [Review] #book2movies

 My favorite part of The Mountain Between UsIdris Elba in this blue shirt.

While the book by Charles Martin tread very closely to the dangerous waters of saccharine by the sea—and in fact offered up a totally treacly mausoleum scene that the movie thankfully sidesteps—the film’s final scene more than makes up for it with one of the most overused tropes we see in romantic films. 

SPOILER ALERT: from the start of the movie, we know the couple is going to fall in love. They’re trapped on a mountain together. They’re basically the only people in the movie. And they are the gorgeous Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. What else are they going to do? The movie follows the standard formula, and there are no surprises. At the end of the film, after they’ve been rescued, and a few months have passed—so we know they’re serious about each other—they walk away from each other. Literally, down the street, walking in opposite directions. And just to throw us off track, they even turn a corner. The screenwriters thinking, I suppose, to take the scene out of pure cliche territory. Except they didn’t. Do I have to tell you that each of them, stop, turn around and run into each other’s arms?

As syrupy as the book was, at least we got to know and care about Ben (Idris Elba), what his needs were. In this version, which switches it up and puts Kate Winslet’s character a bit more in the driver’s seat (a feminist change that I applaud) all we see of Ben are his reactions to her. We see none of his own inner struggle to resist this beautiful but engaged woman. We see none of his deep, some might even say, morbid attachment to his dead wife, a woman he will feel he’s cheating on if he allows himself to feel for Alex (changed from Ashley in the book). 

The Kate Winslet character—Alex—is much less vulnerable & physically dependent on Ben, but the story doesn’t allow us to track their relationship or give us any insight into her relationship with the man she’s going to marry. To see how much more right for her Ben is vs the man she’s engaged to, played by poor Dermot Mulroney is a very brief onscreen outing. 

And while they give Winslet a less debilitating injury from the plane crash, the writers test our willingness to believe by giving both Alex and Ben a couple of other deeply difficult physical trials. Trials that might just have you saying ... hold on, that’s going a bit far, isn’t it?

The Mountain Between Us is beautiful to look at, thanks to cinematography by Mandy (yes! a woman) Walker. Plus visually Idris, Kate and all that snow and ice don’t disappoint, although a little weight loss after three weeks on a mountain without much food might help in the believability department. There were times when I found a score lacking. Some music right here might be nice, I said to myself. 

I don’t know where this film went awry, I really don’t, but I suspect it lies in the script. And possibly the direction. One of the best, most satisfying scenes in the film is the love scene and that, according to Winslet on the Graham Norton Show, was a scene she directed herself. Looking at the movie as a whole, the connection between the two has to be strong enough for us to overlook the implausibility of the situation. Sadly, as much as I love, and will always love, both Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, it just wasn't there.

Have you seen The Mountain Between Us yet? Are we on the same page?

I’m giving it 2 out of 4 snowy mountain peaks.