Dream team save shaky Moun­tain

Waikato Times - - Entertainment - James Croot

The Moun­tain Be­tween Us (M, 103mins) Di­rected by Hany Abu-As­sad ★★★ 1⁄ 2

The storm couldn’t have come at a worse time for both Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) and Ben Bass (Idris Elba). She’s try­ing to get home for her wed­ding and he has emer­gency surgery to at­tend in Bal­ti­more. With all com­mer­cial flights now grounded, Ben gen­tly sug­gests she ‘‘gets a voucher be­fore the ho­tels fill up’’.

How­ever, the ever-re­source­ful pho­to­jour­nal­ist has a bet­ter idea – char­ter­ing a plane. For­tu­nately, she finds a will­ing pi­lot in Wal­ter (Beau Bridges) and Ben, some­what ap­pre­hen­sively, agrees to share the cost in or­der to hitch a lift.

Any un­ease he has proves hor­ri­bly jus­ti­fied, as while Wal­ter man­ages to stay ahead of a storm, a sud­den de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in his health sends the plane hurtling to­wards the vast and im­pos­ing High Uni­tas mountains and its ‘‘bil­lion acres of raw na­ture’’.

With Alex knocked un­con­scious, the scratched, bruised and rib-cracked Ben has to make a de­ci­sion – stay with the plane, or search for as­sis­tance.

It’s hard to be­lieve now that the dream-team­ing of Elba and Winslet was ac­tu­ally the third choice (after Michael Fass­ben­der and Mar­got Rob­bie and Char­lie Hun­nam and Rosamund Pike).

Not only do they bring grav­i­tas and emo­tion to what is po­ten­tially a very slushy and pulpy premise, but they also boast gen­uine chem­istry and au­di­ence-com­pelling charisma.

It’s a pity that J Mills Good­loe ( The Best of Me and The Age of Ade­line) and Chris Weitz ( Rogue One, About a Boy) can’t quite achieve lift-off.

Based on a 2011 book by Charles Martin, much of Moun­tain‘ s di­a­logue seems a bit too ex­po­si­tional and por­ten­tous (‘‘we can go three weeks with­out food, three days with­out wa­ter and three min­utes with­out air’’) and the ‘dan­ger brings an un­likely cou­ple to­gether’ back story is straight from the Speed play­book.

To its credit, Moun­tain doesn’t end in an ob­vi­ous place – an ex­tended coda adding more poignancy and emo­tional depth than tra­di­tional Hol­ly­wood ro­man­tic ac­tion dra­mas achieve.

And ku­dos to direc­tor (and his dy­namic duo) Hany Abu-As­sad ( Omar, Par­adise Now) for choos­ing to shoot on-lo­ca­tion, adding an ex­tra air – and chill – of au­then­tic­ity to pro­ceed­ings. In­deed, he el­e­vates the ac­tion and the drama through clever point-ofview shots and cam­era an­gles.

But in the end, that Moun­tain thor­oughly en­ter­tains – if not com­pletely en­thralls – is down to the cen­tral pair­ing.

Let’s just hope some­one finds them a slightly bet­ter-pol­ished script and more multi-di­men­sional sup­port­ing char­ac­ters to team up with next time. –

Kate Winslet and Idris Elba help el­e­vate the pulpy premise of The Moun­tain Be­tween Us.

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