The Mountain Between Us Review By Cameron Metrejean

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The Mountain Between Us is a beautifully shot survival story lead by two fantastic actors with some great emotionality. So why don’t I feel like it’s great?

Alex Martin and Dr. Ben Bass become last minute passengers on a small plane when both are desperate to get to their location after a storm cancel’s their flight. But when their pilot suffers a fatal attack their tiny plane crashes into the snowy mountain wilderness where they have only each other to depend on. Arguments break out, pasts are divulged, and a romance begins to surface.

On paper this sounds more than serviceable and potentially fantastic so at first glance it’s a little hard to say why this film isn’t working as well as it should be. It may be that everything good in this movie comes with a catch.

“I guess it’s not too surprising that this was based on a novel because the thing partly plays out like a dime-store romance. I have no idea as to the merits of the book but as a film, it definitely feels like it should be working more than it is. ”

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The first, and probably most obvious, is that the actors are wonderful. I’ve grown very fond of Kate Winslet over the years and am convinced she can do no wrong. Idris Elba turns in a good performance too providing both the brains as a doctor (convenient occupation) and the brawn for his injured partner. Their chemistry adds depth to scenes that otherwise wouldn’t be there. BUT, despite the background given on them the characters can’t help but feel rather flat. This may be an attempt at more realism, steering away from cookie-cutter characters but if that’s the case the movies already been called out for the implausibility of certain survival elements. Yeah, they end up going over 2 weeks in this freezing terrain, injuries and all. It doesn’t really get into the grit you see in other cold-suffering movies. It may be light enough to not draw attention while viewing, but after the movie ends some common logic may begin to pick away at what you just watched.

As stated, the film looks very nice. During the short flight and crash sequence, the camera stays in one shot rotating around the cramped space. It’s very effective at delivering a sense of urgency and a claustrophobic atmosphere. There’s also plenty of majestic landscape shots full of sparkling snow. The movie even opts for a lot of silent moments to highlight aloneness in these wide angle shots. BUT the transitioning is a problem. It becomes very clear though that the movie is very fond of hard cuts to the next scene which I guess is fine but after a while, that seems to be the only way the movie knows how to transition. It’s a movie where the cinematography and editing were clearly at different qualities.

The Mountain Between Us also offers a lot of moments of humor in the dialogue than expected. Early on any comedy seems to highlight just how pathetic they feel in this desperate situation, BUT as the film wears on you start to wonder if it’s all necessary. It all does feel natural, keep the chemistry going which leads to a love affair between the two, BUT was a romance really necessary here? After all, recent successful blockbusters like Fury Road or even Zootopia have had male & female protagonists forced to work together without any romance hinted at and have gained praised for it. The romance may come as a pure preference as for whether it strengthens or weakens the story. It certainly adds some new developments to the plot but I think it would have worked fine with just two strangers who forge a connection but not necessarily a relationship.

Without giving too much away we spend the last 15-20 minutes of the film looking at the aftermath of the ordeal and it drags a bit. In something like Room the physical escape and mental escape divide the film fairly evenly, but here since the main focus is the physical escape, if the aftermath is longer than 10 minutes it feels like too much. Although I have to say, as endings for snowy survival movies go, its ending is MUCH better than The Grey (2012) or The Frozen (2012) (Not to be confused with Frozen (2010) or Frozen (2013)) .

I guess it’s not too surprising that this was based on a novel because the thing partly plays out like a dime-store romance. I have no idea as to the merits of the book but as a film, it definitely feels like it should be working more than it is. But if I’m being honest, I didn’t hate my time watching it. Its positives keep it passable and I’d say if you’re curious or a fan of either actor, it’s worth a viewing, but for people expecting a grander experience the trailers advertised, The Mountain Between Us just plateaus.

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Cameron Metrejean — an actor, writer and film critic who loves to review films through the lens of an actor.


Cameron Metrejean is a local actor, film critic, writer and jack of all trades. You will find him around town in front of the lens and behind.

He is a passionate cinephile with a unique voice forged through industry experience.

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