Magazine article Screen International

'The Mountain between Us': Toronto Review

Magazine article Screen International

'The Mountain between Us': Toronto Review

Article excerpt

Idris Elba and Kate Winslet headline Hany Abu-Assad’s English-language foray

Dir. Hany Abu-Assad. US. 2017. 112mins

A battle for survival blooms into an unexpected romance in The Mountain Between Us, a drama that struggles to balance its life-or-death stakes with its far more florid love story. The considerable chemistry between Kate Winslet and Idris Elba certainly helps sell this tearjerker, but even so the film feels oddly distant and muted, only really coming to life in a denouement that suggests the tasteful passion buried at the story’s core.

There’s a realism to the actors’ interactions that eschews disaster-movie hysterics for a considered, strategic approach to staying alive

Fox will release The Mountain Between Us in the US on October 6, and its starry leads should attract plenty of upscale date-night crowds. Fans of the Charles Martin novel will be intrigued, too, but it’s hard to see this rarefied love story catching on with mainstream crowds.

As the film begins, photojournalist Alex (Winslet) and neurosurgeon Ben (Elba) are both stuck in an Idaho airport, unable to get to Denver because of bad weather. Alex introduces herself to Ben and suggests they rent a small plane to fly them to Colorado - which leads to disaster once the pilot (Beau Bridges) suffers a stroke and they crash in the snowy mountains of Utah.

At first, it’s a miracle that Alex and Ben even survive their emergency landing. But then they realise that, because they’re cut off from civilisation in the dead of winter with no cell-phone service, they must undertake a dangerous trek through the mountains to find help.

Director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar) elicits relaxed performances from his leads, whose characters barely get to know one another before the crash, thrusting them into a harrowing situation that requires them to build a shelter and find food. We learn the bare minimum about each - she was on her way to her wedding, while he has a wife, whom he doesn’t want to talk about - and The Mountain Between Us doesn’t try to force them too quickly into a romance. Initially, survival is far more critical.

Winslet and Elba locate the wry humour in Chris Weitz and J. …

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