The Mountain Between Us


THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US GALA D: Hany Abu-Assad. US. 104 min. Sep 16, 3 pm, Princess Of Wales. Rating: N

I really didn’t expect The Mountain Between Us to be one of the worst movies I saw at TIFF this year. A survival drama starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba as a journalist and a doctor whose charter plane crashes high in the Rockies – really, how can you screw that up?

Well, it starts with the script, adapted from Charles Martin’s novel by J. Mills Goodloe (The Age Of Adaline) and Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass). I haven’t read the book, but the script is atrocious – a dull, brutally literal slog through calculated reveals, random plot complications and a general lack of emotional or narrative logic.

Elba and Winslet do what they can to imbue their dialogue with some kind of weight, but they merely elevate the film to mediocrity. Gene Siskel used to say that the real test of a drama was whether it would be more interesting to watch a documentary of its actors having lunch I was thinking of Siskel a lot during this movie, and specifically wondering what kind of catering they had on this production.

How does a filmmaker as smart and sensitive to human frailty as Abu-Assad – making his English-language debut after the Oscar-nominated Paradise Now and Omar – deliver a film this flat, this predictable, this bad? I have no idea. I’ve met him he’s a good person and a thoughtful artist, and everything else he’s done has a certain integrity that’s absolutely lacking here.

I can only assume The Mountain Between Us, with its leaden pace, its inexplicable visual choices and its failure even to realize how dogs work – just take my word on that last one – doesn’t represent his original intentions.

No one sets out to make a movie this bad. But here we are, and here it is.

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