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The Moviegoer: The Mountain Between Us

Two strangers battle the elements and their feelings in this romantic drama

© Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/ Stranded after a plane crash, two strangers must survive the extreme elements of a remote snow-covered mountain and a ­perilous journey across the wilderness.
     A snowstorm has ruined plans for Alex (Kate Winslet: Collateral Beauty) and Ben (Idris Elba: The Dark Tower). Flights are cancelled, rental cars are booked and the airport is buried. Photojournalist Alex is trying to get home to New York for her next day wedding. Neurosurgeon Ben hopes to make it back to Baltimore for a critical operation.
     Brought together by mutual desperation, they form a plan: Charter a small plane to fly them out of the storm’s path, then get tickets to their destinations. They hire Walter (Beau Bridges: Bloodline) and his Lab to take them on a short flight over the mountains.
     You know what happens to the best-laid plans. Walter has a stroke mid-flight, Ben can’t save him, and the plane careens toward snow-covered mountains. Ben awakens to find the plane in pieces, Walter dead and Alex unconscious. The dog is fine.
     Ben sets Alex’s leg and constructs a shelter as they await rescue.
     Ten days later, Alex persuades Ben to try their luck heading down the mountain. Injured and unequipped for the unforgiving wilderness, they must trust each other with their lives.
     As they face the elements, Alex and Ben also face some personal truths. 
     A Lifetime movie with a blockbuster budget, The Mountain Between Us is a mash-up of action-thriller and romance. There’s nothing surprising or original in this story, but it’s beautifully shot. In his English language debut, director Hany Abu-Assad (The Idol) makes brilliant use of the snowy landscape. Sweeping shots of gleaming mountains and pans over sheer cliffs amp up the tension of this fight for life.
     And it’s watchable, thanks to its stars. Elba and Winslet are one of the best-looking on-screen duos in recent memory. Elba is wonderful as Ben, a staid by-the-book man who learns to trust his gut and his heart — with a little help from Alex. In the quiet moments, when Elba watches Alex, he’s most effective, using his expressive face to sell his emotional journey. 
     As Alex, Winslet is full of pluck. Her determination keeps Ben motivated. Her journey is more emotionally fraught, as she has a fiancé at home. Her battle with growing feelings for Ben provides some great small moments for her character.
     Still, the plot is hackneyed. There’s no question as to where the story is going and little suspense as to their survival.
     The movie is also about 15 minutes too long, as Abu-Assad drags out a third act that is essentially a forgone conclusion.
     If you enjoy thrilling survival tales, sweeping romance — or if you just want to see Winslet and Elba take their shirts off — this film is well worth the ticket.
Fair Romantic Action • PG-13 • 103 mins.
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