The Mountain Between Us (2017) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Mountain Between Us (2017)

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Critic Consensus: The Mountain Between Us may be too far-fetched for some viewers to appreciate, but it's elevated by reliably engaging performances from Idris Elba and Kate Winslet.

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Stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow covered mountain. When they realize help is not coming, they embark on a perilous journey across hundreds of miles of wilderness, pushing one another to endure and discovering strength they never knew possible. The film is directed by Academy Award nominee Hany Abu-Assad and stars Academy Award winner Kate Winslet and Idris Elba.

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Critic Reviews for The Mountain Between Us

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (37)

I was surprised by the film's shift from adventure story to romantic melodrama, and yet the turn feels natural. Everyday life more often resembles a melodrama than an adventure story.

October 19, 2017 | Full Review…

The Mountain Between Us fails almost exclusively because of Kate Winslet. It's a case of good actress in the wrong film, playing across a good leading man who just doesn't resonate on her frequency.

October 12, 2017 | Full Review…

The romantic fantasy tendencies hijack this otherwise interesting unconventional love story in order to become a sort of bizarre Idris Elba fan fiction.

October 6, 2017 | Full Review…

Skip The Mountain Between Us. If you're in the mood to be cloyed, watch a Hallmark movie instead.

October 6, 2017 | Full Review…

Labored and boring, The Mountain Between Us is a soap opera in the snow that fritters away the time and talents of Kate Winslet and Idris Elba for all the wrong reasons.

October 6, 2017 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

At one point you almost start rooting for the elements to win out, just so these two [characters] would just shut up.

October 6, 2017 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Mountain Between Us

At what point can you tell an onscreen pairing just isn't working? Chemistry is one of those elusive and ineffable qualities that can make or break a film, especially one that relies upon sexual tension and romantic yearning. If the actors don't feel like they want to be with one another, it's all going to fall apart. This is what I kept thinking as I watched The Mountain Between Us and was dumbstruck by the powerful lack of chemistry between its leads, each an accomplished actor in their own right. I don't thin the movie could have been saved given its script but it certainly could have been at least better. If you're going into The Mountain Between Us expecting a thrilling survival tale or a stirring romantic pairing, then you'll be sorely disappointed. Ben (Idris Elba) and Alex (Kate Winslet) are strangers who have the same problem. Their flights have been canceled and they have important places to be. He's a surgeon. She's a journalism photographer who is getting married. They share a single engine propeller plane to fly over the mountains and into the Denver airport. Unfortunately, the pilot suffers a stroke and the plane goes down, stranding Ben, Kate, and the pilot's helpful labrador in the mountains. They'll have to rely upon one another to survive in a hostile wilderness and seek rescue when nobody knows where they may be. Watching pretty people endure hardships and persevere is as old a story as Hollywood, and The Mountain Between Us fails on so many levels, but none more so than chemistry. Elba and Winslet are meant to fall in love with one another over the course of their struggles and it is that love, we are told, that was the real key to their survival. If that sounds like Nicholas Sparks dribble, you're on the right track, as the source material was very much a romance story. I'm sure the characters had to be better established and the romance felt more organic than what we get in the movie. I think the setup is an interesting place to start: two strangers who rely upon each other for survival and that co-dependence transforms into something they deem to be love. However, we don't really get much in the way of the consequences of this except for an extended coda that doesn't feel like nearly enough. Other than a spur-of-the-moment sex scene the movie doesn't dwell on this looming romantic relationship in any way other than glances of gratitude. We hardly know anything about these characters before they are in a plane crash, and from there the survival against the elements takes precedence. Winslet spends most of the movie laying down and needing to be taken care of. If this movie needs to survive on their romance then it was doomed at casting. Granted, there is nil in the way of characterization and plot development for them to work with as well. At no point do you feel any emotional connection or even any sort of sensual heat between them. They seem far more irritated and put-upon by one another, but that's supposed to melt away into something deeper and meaningful, though it never does. These are two talented actors but whoa do they not work together (other pairings were going to be Michael Fassbender and Margot Robbie, Charlie Hunnam and Rosamund Pike). Let this film be a lesson to everyone about the importance of hiring the right actors. Given the life-and-death survival, it seems shocking that the film has such low or non-existent stakes. You never once feel like these characters are in real jeopardy. They always seem to luck out, whether it's a perfectly placed flare gun to ward off a bobcat, a cabin that's none too far from their crash site, or that same dead bobcat that can provide some nourishment. There doesn't seem to be much of a struggle on screen other than walking through the snow. It's missing the visceral realism that survival stories offer audiences as entertainment. Ever since watching Wind River, stories about characters running long distances in sub-zero climates is ruined for me. I keep thinking, "Why aren't their lungs exploding now?" I was surprisingly bored through much of their survival outdoors because none of it felt that serious or memorable (this isn't Kate Winslet's personal Revenant). This is less a survival story than a sudsy romance. Apparently, how they survive is less important than their eventual acknowledgement of love. It removes all sense of danger. The inclusion of the dog is the single greatest antidote to realism. Ben and Alex have a cute pet this whole time. This makes The Mountain Between Us feel like a "movie" rather than a "story," and so we just wait and wait for precious moments that will successfully entertain, few and far between they are. Director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar) makes fine use of the Canadian Rockies to provide breathtakingly picturesque landscapes. Even if you're relatively bored with the characters there's always the scenery to take in and enjoy. Abu-Assad does have one memorably effective sequence and that's the plane crash itself. His camera bobs and weaves inside the tiny cabin as long unbroken shot, reminiscent of the famous sequence inside the car in Children of Men. It's an effort level that isn't really matched, or at least evident, for the rest of the movie. It peaks at the crash. The human drama seems more interested in the human drama than the survival thrills, which is fine, but if that was the case then we should have gotten better characters and the room for them to develop so that whatever romantic connections form feel and believable and desirable. I have a solution to all of these issues except the chemistry one. This movie needed a radical rehaul at the structural level to be a better-developed and more interesting story. The movie needed to be told primarily AFTER Ben and Kate are rescued (spoilers, I guess, but I doubt many thought this was going to end in Greek tragedy). It's during this fifteen-minute coda where the movie becomes its most interesting, and that's because our characters have to readjust to the outside world but are forever changed. Starting from that point allows the characters to open up so much more and we see a different array of challenges, ones that are more relatable but also with an undetermined outcome. We know these actors are going to live by the film's end without question. We don't know if they'll still be psychologically stable or whole though re-acclimating to their lives. This needed to be more like the second half of Room. This approach would give substantially more for these great actors to dig into. You could also use flashbacks to fill in notable experiences during their time stranded in the mountains. This would provide contrasts but it would also smartly allow us to skip all the dull stuff we know is just filler. This would also allow more genuine surprises and chances for narrative irony. At one point Alex develops the film roll she took during her time in the mountains, and at this point we already know she snapped a picture while Ben was asleep post-coitus. What if seeing these pictures was our first clue that some romantic intimacy happened? These two people bonded over the course of a couple weeks and no two other people may fully understand what they've gone through. Explore that with their difficulty to reconnect to the "outside world" and how much they have come to rely on one another after their rescue. That way it's a character-piece about relationships with worthy material. The Mountain Between Us is a mediocre romantic drama hindered by terrible chemistry, half-formed characterization, and a poorly developed story. When the life-and-death survival after a plane crash in the mountain feels lacking in stakes and peril, then you have a problem. When the romantic union between its mega-watt stars feels perfunctory, you have an additional problem, especially when it seems to be the point of the exercise. The Mountain Between Us plays, as one other astute critic wrote, as "Idris Elba fan fiction," with the injured lead being tended to by the handsome and capable protector who can't help but fall in love with this woman. It's not an offensively bad movie but a fatally flawed disappointment that had potential given its premise. There needed to be a dramatic restructuring of the screenplay to emphasize their recovery, which would have better served the talents of these actors. Still, there are worse people to be stranded with. Nate's Grade: C

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

Israeli-born director Hany Abu-Assad makes no apologies for the type of movie he's made in The Mountain Between Us. There is no reason to, either. The film is a handsomely mounted, beautifully photographed, human drama about two people who become stranded with no documentation whatsoever about where they might be. This is a movie that totally accomplishes what it sets out to do, that completely embodies what it is meant to be, and on most levels you have to applaud a film for being as much. It's admirable that Abu-Assad, working from a screenplay by Chris Weitz (About a Boy) who adapted Charles Martin's 2010 novel of the same name, followed this desire to adapt the source material in the vein of this grand romantic adventure tale of old that so willingly commits to the type of movie it wants to be that we honestly don't see much of anymore. Is there room for criticism? Of course, but it's difficult to balance. The movie is inherently melodramatic and rather frail in its plotting in how it documents the passage of time (hint: poorly), but stars Kate Winslet and Idris Elba always look just the right amount of roughed up to still be attractive in that rugged sense that will surely make couples on a date night want to get lost in the wilderness together. All of that said, this isn't a great movie despite having several positive attributes-most being in the sweeping visuals-but when taken on the terms of the type of movie it is aiming to be and given The Mountain Between Us is essentially the most prestigious pile of dopey cheese one could ever create-it works for what it is. It does, it really does. Early in the film a plane flies overhead while Elba's character struggles to shoot off a flare. Winslet's character yells at the top of her lungs, but out of frustration Elba's Ben turns to her and tells her that they can't hear her. "I know they can't hear me! It's just what you do!" She replies. Watching The Mountain Between Us is kind of like that as well; even if you're intelligent enough to know the movie isn't a great movie you keep watching out of a need and/or want to feel something specific and have a certain kind of experience. The Mountain Between Us fills this kind of quota in spades. read the whole review at www.reviewsfromabed.com

Philip Price
Philip Price

Super Reviewer

½

I think we've been pretty spoiled with great survival movies in recent years. 127 Hours, Gravity, The Revenant, Lone Survivor, or even Mad Max have given us a keen sense of a perilous journey with an emotionally satisfying finale. It seems like we get a great one every year, but The Mountain Between Us just the opposite. It uses the setting and climate to produce cheap drama and dialogue that feels like something out of a lifetime movie. With award winning actors in Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, it's hard to believe that there's little chemistry between the two. But I guess that's what happens when the script is poorly constructed. Usually it's beneficial to get to know characters before putting them in a life-threatening position, that way you actually feel for them when put in horrific circumstances. One second we're in the airport following Kate Winslet and Idris Elba in the airport as they separately try and and book a new flight during a heavy snowstorm, and under 5 minutes later, they are on a private plane together fighting through the wintry forces. It all just happens way too fast. After seeing the entire film, I'm glad there isn't any more to the runtime, but perhaps if there was more time spent setting the characters up, I could have enjoyed sme of the interplay between them later on. However, as I said before, the dialogue doesn't help the situation at all. When all you have is two actors, a bunch of snow, and a beautiful labrador, there's not a whole lot you can do creatively. Yet, there are movies that have done more with less. And when you don't have a ton of chemistry with your leads, your instinct would be as a director to give the dog some screen time, and the lab certainly gets that. Being a dog person, and with thinly written characters, I cared way more about the dog's whereabouts than I did whether or not Kate Winslet would drown in a pond of ice. That sounds harsh, but it's true, there's just not a lot of meaningful depth given to Winslet or Elba's characters. Can you guess what may unfold when a man and a woman are stranded together for weeks on a mountain top? Yep, eventual romantic feelings are expressed and it's just as forced as you can imagine. As if i wasn't already disliking the movie at that point, that was the final nail in the coffin. Really, the only redeemable aspect to this film is the beautiful labrador making the trek along with the actors, and a pretty impressive crash sequence (technically). Other than that, this will go down as one of the more forgettable films (that had promise) of the last few years. 3.3/10

Thomas Drufke
Thomas Drufke

Super Reviewer

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