A high-con­cept soap opera

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

THE MOUN­TAIN BE­TWEEN US Di­rected by Hany Abu-As­sad. Star­ring Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Beau Bridges, Der­mot Mul­roney. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 111 min It comes as an enor­mous re­lief when the moun­tain lion turns up.

Idris Elba, Kate Winslet and a dog find them­selves stranded on a snowy peak some­where be­tween the western states and New York City. They don’t have to worry about wa­ter, but, once they’ve got through the candy bars, food is go­ing to prove a prob­lem. Within min­utes, many view­ers will find them­selves won­der­ing if the pro­duc­ers will al­low the char­ac­ters to ad­dress the labrador in the room. Yum, yum! Then again, Kate Winslet and the dog might eat Idris Elba. They could last for months up there.

Any­way, be­fore we come to that un­likely crux, Kate shoots a moun­tain lion with a flare gun and we’re left to pon­der less un­com­fort­able quan­daries. How will they get off the moun­tain? Will they sur­vive their or­deal with­out a ter­ri­ble love scene? Who thought this was a good idea?

Based on a novel by Charles Martin, the film imag­ines that Elba, a sur­geon, and Winslet, a pho­tog­ra­pher, are de­layed at a mid-western air­port and elect to share the cost of a pri­vate plane. Fol­low­ing pi­lot Beau Bridges’s un­in­ten­tion­ally comic stroke, the pan­icked cam­era buzzes in and out of the air­craft as it hur­tles to an un­likely soft land­ing on a moun­tain­side. Even­tu­ally, man, woman and dog come to. The ra­dio is bro­ken. Phones don’t work. The route to safety is un­clear.

Re­ly­ing on some ab­surdly clunky plot­ting to re­veal des­per­ate se­crets – Elba car­ries around a dic­ta­phone con­tain­ing life-chang­ing con­ver­sa­tions – the film cracks mer­rily along Guilty Plea­sure Ravine for its first hour or so. If you want an im­plau­si­bly lav­ish high-con­cept episode of an af­ter­noon soap opera, then look no fur­ther.

Sadly, The Moun­tain Be­tween Us cracks apart when – feet nearly hacked off, skin blued by ex­po­sure to icy wa­ter – the two fall into a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship. They swoon in ways no half-dead peo­ple do. They say things no­body ever says. It’s good to see a rare movie ro­mance that casts a black ac­tor op­po­site a white one. What a shame that, for un­re­lated rea­sons, the script al­lows no pos­si­bil­ity of this par­tic­u­lar ro­mance gain­ing emo­tional trac­tion.

Still, at least the dog re­mains un­eaten.

Slip­pery slope: Kate Winslet and Idris Elba in The Moun­tain Be­tween Us

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