It’s hard to categorize a film like THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US (2017), based on the book by Charles Martin (Broadway. 2010). It starts out as action/drama and unfolds into a wee romance. It’s not my cup of tea, but I’m open to new experiences. I just hope they don’t all end up like this one.
Ben and Alex are desperate to get home for the holidays. Ben has a critical surgery to perform and Alex is getting married. With an impending snowstorm and the commercial airports in Salt Lake City shut down, Alex charters a private plane and for reasons only she knows, taps Ben to be her flight partner. A mid-flight tragedy dumps them both at the top of the Uintas Mountains. Broken, emotionally crippled, and days from starvation they decide to make their way down the mountain and go for help.
I’ve been thinking about this for two weeks about why this didn’t work for me, and finally, I think I have it. Alex the photographer is written as essentially helpless and not even Kate Winslet can give her dimension by being unconscious most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, a photographer getting married is an incredible stressor and working up to the literal minute is something some women do, but that’s literally the only aspect of her character.She’s getting married. Not every character needs to save the world, but even as a mirror for Ben’s emotional wall, she’s reduced to a woman late for her wedding.
Oh, and she’s difficult. I mean, really difficult. She needs to be right even at the expense of being dangerously wrong.
Ben, on the other hand, is a surgeon. He has a purpose, he’s pedantic, exacting, does most of the heavy lifting (see unconscious Alex above), he has a huge emotional secret, but you’ll figure it out in short order even before the “big reveal.” Ben seems to suffer through her company because maybe it’s better than being alone and maybe he needs someone to save.
Or eat (no, it’s not that kind of movie)(sadly).
What saves this movie over-all is the scenery. Large sprawling expanses of mountain ranges and steep valleys, so stark and foreboding I felt cold during the screening. As the camera panned around the vast nothingness, I felt helpless for them. How do you make it? How do you survive? Who do you eat first?
Don’t worry – it’s not the dog.
It’s a survival story with a romantic edge because two people can’t just work together without eventually falling into bed. The story itself is compelling because you absolutely want to know how they’ll find their way to civilization, you just don’t care for the character interaction.
If you’re looking for a movie about romance despite the odds, this really isn’t it. They get along, they work together, but the “romance” aspect feels by the numbers.
THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US is rated PG-13 for intense scenes of falling out of the sky, broken bones, swears, and a brief canoodling. NO BOOBS FOR YOU.