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Higher than most men would dare,
The mountains stand in sparser air
To touch the blue abyss above
And tempt mankind’s desire to share
In their ambitious love.

Yet those who underestimate
The mountain’s ever lofty state
Will find what awed from lower heights
Can rapidly retaliate,
To prove how beauty bites.

MPAA rating: PG-13

Since I’m the bigger movie fan, it’s unusual for my VC to watch a movie in the theater before me, but The Mountain Between Us was so clearly her kind of movie that she did and I just now caught up. Kate Winslet and Idris Elba in a gradual romance? Stunning mountain scenery? Survival story based on a book she had to read beforehand? Yep, definitely her kind of movie.

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That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not my kind of movie too. The survival story and romance work hand in hand as Ben (Elba) and Alex (Winslet) go from sharing a chartered plane to braving the elements together after their pilot (Beau Bridges) has a stroke midflight, crashing them in the gorgeous but treacherous Rockies. While it could be said that they help each other survive, the bulk of the helping comes from Ben, who’s a doctor luckily enough, but as the two disagree on how to respond to their predicament, it quickly becomes clear that they need someone else to rely on (aside from the dog).

Maybe you’ve had this experience where you watch a movie with someone who’s read the book and mentions throughout all the differences between them, how so-and-so was actually married or she was injured much worse or there’s a whole subplot and twist they left out. It’s hard to say whether that helps or hurts the viewing experience, but thanks to my VC, I at least feel like I read Charles Martin’s novel vicariously. I do wonder, though, why they let Elba keep his British accent while Winslet hid it. One thing the book didn’t have is the actual scenery on display, and the Canadian Rockies where filming took place are among our favorite places to behold in awe, at least in pictures (hopefully in person one day, though maybe not by charter plane).

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The Mountain Between Us isn’t an objectively great movie nor an awards contender, but it gets three things very right: the casting, the setting, and the end. When you’re watching high-caliber actors go a little schmaltzy in such breathtaking environs, it’s easy to appreciate the tale for what it is, especially when it sticks the landing.

Best line: (Ben, who later questions this) “The heart’s nothing but a muscle.”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2018 S.G. Liput
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