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The Mountain Between Us (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 118 minutes


This is Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) updated for the 21st Century. When two people, photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslett) and skilled British neurosurgeon Ben Bass (Idris Elba) find that their plane to New York from Idaho has been cancelled due to a bad storm, they charter a small single engine prop plane to fly to Denver in the hopes of catching another plane to New York. Well directed by Hany Abu-Assad from a screenplay by Chris Weitz based on a novel by Charles Martin, the plane crashes on the top of a snow-capped mountain miles and miles from civilization.

While this story strains credulity to the breaking point, itís a feel-good, heart-warming tale that even has a loveable dog in almost every scene. Itís pure Hollywood schmaltz.

There are some truly amazing things that these two sophisticated city people do. Like just about every time they need it, Ben builds a fire. Iíve never been stranded on the top of a snow-capped mountain, but I would think that one of the hardest things to do in that situation would be to a) find something to burn, b) actually start the fire, c) and keep it burning for hours. But thatís about the first thing Ben does after the crash is start a fire somehow in the inside of the crashed plane to keep them warm. And as they progress throughout the film in their quest to save themselves, they keep making fires, and the fires magically keep burning while they sleep by them without anyone adding anything to them and without the fire burning them up while they are asleep. Neither ever stays awake to tend to them.

Thereís more, but I won't bore you with details. They'll smack you in the face when you see the movie.

I hate to be so unromantic and realistic to trash this movie for being, well, unrealistic even by Hollywood's loose standards, but I think that Abu-Assad could have made the film just a teeny bit more true to life. For one thing he should have eschewed a falling through the ice scene that was truly absurd, if nothing else.

On the positive side, everything seen was filmed on location. There was no green screen used on this film. The actors were helicoptered in every day and they actually filmed in the -30į weather, at least thatís what the editor claimed at my screening. The acting is very good.

Of course the story is that these are two dissimilar people who find themselves stranded together. They argue and persevere and eventually romantic feelings bloom their disturbing heads as they are trying to survive.

As to my opening sentence, the title refers not to the mountain on which they crashed, but the mountain of race as she is white and he is black. This is basically a soap opera asking the question, Can true love overcome that mountain?

I know this sounds like I didnít like it, but thatís not true. I enjoyed it because I just turned off my sense of reason and enjoyed it as much as I would a Donald Duck or Pepť Le Pew cartoon or a James Bond movie. I told myself to lighten up; this is a movie!