This Idris Elba romance is so-so

City Press review: The Mountain Between Us

Johannesburg - Featuring a two-time Academy Award-winning director and two renowned leads, you’d think The Mountain Between Us would be a triumph.

Unfortunately, it’s a somewhat cheesy and forgettable survival-come-romance that fades from view among other films much more deserving of your money.

In it, surgeon Ben (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex (Kate Winslet) find themselves stranded at an airport when their flight is cancelled due to stormy weather. Ben is scheduled for emergency brain surgery on a child and Alex is getting married the next day. They decide to board a charter plane together, only for it to crash on a snowy mountaintop after the pilot suffers a stroke.

They both survive the crash (along with the pilot’s adorable Labrador), but are left stranded in the freezing cold.

Aware that they will die if they do not look for help, Alex convinces Ben that they need to get moving. And while Ben is initially sceptical, he nevertheless accompanies Alex as they start a gruelling trek through the snowy wilderness.

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What undoes the film is the attempt to turn it into a pulp fiction romance about halfway through. Why would the screenwriters choose to do the one thing that would turn this survival film from an interesting look at how two strangers must cooperate to survive into a mediocre romance?

What we get is a weird survival romance with tedious dialogue. I love Winslet, as I’m sure we all do, but after a while her character goes from witty to whiny. Elba, who can seemingly do no wrong in Hollywood right now (even after the disastrous The Dark Tower) is charming, but comes off awkward as the romantic lead.

But the film isn’t a dead loss; it’s the wasted potential that irks.

The cinematography, shot in the Vancouver wilderness, is awe-inspiring, and Elba and Winslet make a good pair as far as romantic couples go. This will make for comfortable, inoffensive viewing when it comes to television. If you’re looking to catch a new release in cinema though, there are better offerings showing.

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