Movie Review: ‘The Mountain Between Us’

Director: Hany Abu-Assad

Cast: Kate Winslet, Idris Elba

Plot: After a plane crash two strangers must work together to survive the High Uintas Wilderness of Utah. During the ordeal a romance develops between the two.



“Hey, you on the way to the pitch meeting?”

“Sure am! I’ve got two new scripts to sell!”

“What’ve you got?”

“First there’s Between Us. It’s about two professionals, one adventurous and impulsive and one stoic and serious. Due to a mix up they get put next to each other on a plane. They don’t along at first but when it turns out they’re working together they have to compromise and a passionate romance develops. We might have Kate Winslet attached.”

“Sounds good, I hope you’ve got an adorable dog to help bring them together!”

“You know it! The second script is The Mountain. It starts with a plane crash and two survivors are injured. With no hope of rescue one has to use his surgery skills and the other her sense of hope to get to back to civilisation so she can attend her wedding. Idris Elba is interested in playing the surgeon.”

“Wow, that’s intense! I hope you…look out for that puddle of water!”

“Oh no! I slipped over and my scripts are hopelessly muddled together! I don’t know where The Mountain ends and Between Us begins!”

“You don’t have time to sort them out, better just hand them in as is!”


Yeah, that’s how I image this happened. Things don’t get off to a great start with the contrived set up and silly looking plane crash. I can see that they were trying for realism by excluding a soundtrack and keeping the camera fixed, but it looks like they’re on a roller coaster. There’s a reason cinema manipulates reality to be more interesting.

The survival business does have a few mildly nail biting moments, including a scene with a cougar, but when the steaming naked tumble rolls around it all feels a bit ridiculous. The film-maker’s feel like they’re still trying to convince themselves this is happening, as the groping and side-boob is intercut with shots of them smiling at each other to show that they had feelings. They left out the bit where Elba helps Winslet piss in a pot. Huh.


There’s potential for something here, but the characters know each other for such a brief amount of time and under such dire circumstances the handling of their romance feels jarring. Even the survival business falls apart because there’s no sense of time, distance travelled or risk of starvation. They mention it from time to time, but it’s only occasionally that you feel like they’re in danger. Then the third act drags on for so long…

Winslet and Elba are both talented actors, and we can report that they don’t half-ass it. They both put as much as they can into the characters and make some scenes work. Unfortunately the mash up of genres does not work.

Rating: THREE out of TEN