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With Jim Sabatini

The Mountain Between Us

The Mountain Between Us
Kate Winslet and Idris Elba

Rated: PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, peril, injury images, and brief strong language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: October 6, 2017 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox

It is a scenic cinematic endurance test with two gifted actors at its center in the snowy, mountainous environs of northeastern Utah in The Mountain Between Us.

Basically a two-handler starring Oscar-winner Kate Winslet (The Dressmaker, Steve Jobs) and Idris Elba (The Dark Tower, Prometheus) helmer Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar) wrangles romantic drama out of a survivalist tale working from a novel from Charles Martin.

A taciturn, guarded neurosurgeon is Elba's Ben while Winslet's Alex is a voluble, nosy photojournalist who'll just happen to charter a two-seat plane to get to their respective destinations (Alex is about to get married). Their trek (as the fuselage perspective can have a queasy effect) turns disastrous as their ill-fated pilot (a cameo for Beau Bridges) suffers a stroke and the small aircraft hits terra firma. But, the 'co-pilot,' a golden Labrador makes it out alright while the passengers suffer physical hardships, Alex having a fractured leg.

At the outset, it doesn't seem like Alex and Ben could have much of a rapport, but over time, to some degree, they have the ability to win over much admiration drawing from the strength of characters that have a full-bodied quality about them. Both don't get too cute with their lively furry friend who has much fun in the snow even with perils like mountain lions lurking.

Winslet and Elba (both essentially playing against type, but with no shortage of decency and humanity) do their best to embrace the dire struggle utilizing their gift for pathos pretty well as romance really is on slow-burn till the final, more drawn out last act. It puts a chilly damper over the proceedings which most will probably know where the turns will head beforehand.

Yet, for its bumps and blemishes, The Mountain Between Us lets the formidable actors infuse the eponymous gulf with some creditable splendor (though this is far from The English Patient). Enough so to make it passable date night fare with its share of adventure and excitement even if the Lab often commands much attention. It also helps to have a suitably unobtrusive score and some stunning lensing from Mandy Walker to bring much authenticity to a plight that demands much fortitude and strength. Perhaps more than what the stranded, but hardened caregivers really prove to have between them when it counts.

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The Mountain Between Us  B-      C+   B-         B            B- 

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