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The Mountain Between Us: Clash of Genres Undoes Hany Abu-Saad Film

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Marija Djurovic
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The Mountain Between Us: Clash of Genres Undoes Hany Abu-Saad Film

Like his sadly disastrous The Courier, Palestinian director Hany Abu-Saad’s second English language feature doesn’t hit the mark. Based on Charles Martin’s novel of the same name, The Mountain Between Us follows the struggles of two strangers – and a dog – when they find themselves stranded on a snowy mountain peak after a plane crash. It’s a film that has its charms, but the story’s overall lack of urgency and over-romanticised script are its downfall.

The story begins by introducing us to photojournalist, Alex Martin (Winslet), who is desperately trying to get a flight out of Idaho as she is to be soon married. Unfortunately, her flight is cancelled due to bad weather and she is now faced with the idea of either having to miss her own wedding or wait until the flights resume. Finding himself in a similar situation is neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Bass (Elba), who is also in a hurry to get back to Baltimore for an urgent operation. The two strangers soon meet and managing to secure a spot on a private charter flight with an elderly pilot (played by Beau Bridges).

Shortly after takeoff, the storm – which has already managed to shut down the entire airport – soon begins taking a turn for the worse, sending the plane down onto the snow-covered mountains. Stranded, injured and with no way of contacting the outside world, Alex and Ben soon setup camp and decide to wait for help to arrive.  However, as the days pass, the couple – who are now slowly beginning to grow closer to each other – realise that it is up to them to find a way back to civilisation before the freezing weather and unpredictable wilderness swallows them whole.

Adapted to the screen by Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe, most of the problems lay within the troubling script, which struggles to find a proper balance between the two genres it’s attempting to blend. The survival aspects of the film are not as compelling or as engaging as one would have hoped, while the romantic subplot between the two strangers is severely underdeveloped. Failing to find the time to create a plausible and compelling dynamic between the two characters, there is very little emotional connection there and though both Idris and Winslet give it their all and manage to elevate the material slightly, the payoff is severely underwhelming.

On a more positive note, the technical aspects of the film fare better in comparison with both Abu-Saad and cinematographer, Mandy Walker, successfully managing to craft striking imagery along the way, creating a believable backdrop to the proceedings.

On the whole, however, there is very little substance hiding beneath all of the pretty frost. Lifeless and a tad melodramatic, The Mountain Between Us feels more like a TV movie than a big-screen survival flick. It’s definitely not the worst film you will see this year, but taking into consideration the talent found both in front and behind the camera, it could and should have been a lot better than this.

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360 Tip

Michael Fassbender and Margot Robbie were first considered for the roles before Charlie Hunnam and Rosamund Pike were called. Eventually, though, all four dropped out and the job was finally given to Idris Elba and Kate Winslet.

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