Film Review: The Mountain Between Us




Directed by Many Abu-Assad

Starring Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Beau Bridges, Demot Mulroney


Fighting through the platitudes of romance/action movies, The Mountain Between Us doesn’t have Kate Winslet leaving a Jack behind, no Idris Elba fighting against villains.

The Mountain Between Us (2017), based on the bestseller novel of the same name, reveals the story of two strangers and a dog after a plane crash. After all flights are cancelled due to a blizzard, Alex (Kate Winslet) is impatient about getting back to New York. Ben (Idris Elba) happens to be at the right place at the right time, ironically, that the two strangers and a pilot’s loving dog get stuck in a disastrous situation. Right after they rent a plane to head back to New York, the pilot has a heart attack, and their plane gets caught in the blizzard at the same time, which causes them to crash. From this point on, the movie concentrates solely on the three characters and their adventure together in this endurance story full of action and compassion. Their chances of survival depend on them sticking together. 

The atmosphere in the movie is steady and calm yet intriguing at the moment the audience anticipates the accident. The film meets expectations and grasps the audience with its skillful effects. The opposition between the characters and the background is gripping; there’s a tangible line between nature’s vigour and the characters’ volitional decisions. The introverted character of Ben might be associated with the agitated circumstances of almost slipping down the mountain. The movie balances between the love story and surviving at the snowy mountain in Utah.

Cinematographer Mandy Walker’s extraordinary skills overtake the plot and shift our focus to the visual spectacle throughout the movie. The movie switches between Ben and Alex and the landscape focusing on the wondrous wintertime and sublime nature. It seems almost hallucinatory as well as breathtaking, in spite the ambivalence of their survival. Perhaps this constitutes the main message of the movie for romantic revival in the traditional disaster movies. This monotone steadiness verifies a cliche romantic movie atmosphere that even the near-death experience can’t escape from. On the other hand, what we rarely see in disaster movies is the comic relief; from the dog to the unexpected jokes, this movie finds the time. The audience seems to be captured by the unexpected action and the comic scenes appear to have its genuine effect of relieving the audience from the suspence. The elegant shots of the mountains and the three characters strengthen how the film looks on the screen. Nature is in itself a character, imperceptibly emerging from time to time on the screen.

Cinematography and plot are linked together in providing a story that focuses on romance without cliches, while teasing more action than it delivers. The crux of it is survival, but it ends up being more of a romantic story than one of survival logistics.

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Originally from Istanbul/Turkey but lives in Groningen, Netherlands. Studies English Language and Culture at Groningen University. Interested in poetry, writing, art, films, and medieval period.