March 18, 2023
The Mountain Between Us (2017)
Grade: 62/100

Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Stars: Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Beau Bridges

What it's about. Alex (Kate Winslet) is a 40ish woman who needs to get to New York to attend her wedding. Ben (Idris Alba) is a surgeon who needs to get to Baltimore to perform an operation. Their connecting flight to Denver is cancelled due to a winter storm.

What to do? Alex and Ben decide to charter a small private plane. Their pilot is Walter (Beau Bridges), who has a labrador. Because it is a movie, Walter has a fatal stroke during the flight, and the plane crashes on the top of a mountain.

Because it is a movie, no one is looking for the plane to find survivors, and cell phone service is out in the remote region. Alex and Ben, and the labrador, have to make it down the mountain. A complication is that Alex has a serious leg injury from the crash.

We know that both Alex and Ben (and the dog) will make it down the mountain, because if they died instead, it would really bum out the audience. It is also no surprise that Alex and Ben stoke a romance along the way.

Once the two have returned to civilization, we are surprised to learn that Alex's betrothed (Dermot Mulroney) is not a jerk. In fact, he is the world's nicest person. Nonetheless, Alex has lost interest in him, and a belated happy romantic reunion between Alex and Ben is only a matter of time.

How others will see it. The Mountain Between Us did respectable box office, earning 62M worldwide. The film was largely ignored by festivals, and scored poorly at RottenTomatoes. At, the user ratings are middling (6.4 out of 10) among men, but women grade it more highly, especially over-45 viewers, who gave it a 6.9.

Most who did not like the film thought is was too slow, that the romantic chemistry between Winslet and Elba was unconvincing, that the dog didn't need to be there, and / or that the story was implausible.

How I felt about it. The dog does seem healthy and chipper, considering that it apparently goes without much food for weeks at a time. We also doubt that Alex, given her bad leg, could get down that mountain. We find it unlikely that a mountain lion would be exploring the icy, treeless top of the mountain. Most unlikely of all is that a dead pilot would land the plane on the mountain without killing all aboard, especially the dog, who is unsecured.

We are impressed, though, that Winslet did her own stunt when she fell into near-freezing water. You wouldn't catch me doing that.

And, somehow, the movie is considerably better than it should be. This has a lot to do with the quality of the two leads, who play their characters as normal people instead of stereotypes. The director, too, does not believe in false or exaggerated drama, which damages so many films. Abu-Assad has directed two movies Oscar-nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Omar and Paradise Now. I will have to track them down one of these days.