Anika Goes to the Movies: The Mountain Between Us

Stars: 4/5

Quick review: If I have a complaint it’s that there isn’t a super compelling reason for Alex (Kate Winslet) to butt into Ben’s (Idris Elba) life. I mean, you have an entire airport full of stranded folks, and while a surgeon who wants to get to Baltimore to perform emergency surgery is a good candidate to invite along on chartering a plane out of storm bound Idaho, Alex doesn’t know this guy. It’s Idris Elba, so I see why most anyone would want him on a plane with them, but she’s getting married the next day hence her own rush to fly out. I guess they are trying to establish that she just has that kind of personality. Anyway, I wish the motivations to begin with made a bit more sense. But the rest of the movie is top notch. Totally worth it, and the theater experience is the only way to do the landscape justice.

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Review with a few spoilers: Let me preface this by saying I love a good survival flick. Mostly because I’m 90% sure that I’m dead inside of a week if dropped in the wilderness. I could chew some pine bark, probably get a fire going, maybe throw together a decent bit of shelter. But with my immune system and general lack of endurance, one good sniffle and I’m toast. So vicarious survival of the physical rigors of the elements is my jam (Iron Will is another fav in this genre, and I think I’ve read “Hatchet” like 5 times). But survival plus romance is tough one to pull off well, I think. And The Mountain Between Us does it brilliantly.

The love scene is a little intense for a PG-13. I might not take an under 16 yo to it. But it’s not gratuitous either. In terms of the story it is a poignant point in their struggle for survival. And the struggle is freaking fantastic. Bring a sweater, because you will get cold just looking at this thing (plus movie theaters, amiright?). At one point Alex says, “I’m getting used to the cold.” And I’m like, “Yeah that’s called hypothermia sweetie. Also, I’m not. Brrrr.”

The intense surprises are well balanced with bits of humor to give a sense of authentic individuals coping with a survivalist situation. And the way the narrative unfolds is incredible. It’s some of the best storytelling I’ve seen on screen in a while. Especially, at the end.

Picking up the threads of an old life is sometimes impossible after the kind of traumatic ordeal that Ben and Alex share. And you bond to people you’ve been through challenging experiences with (hence every company retreat ever). Trying to pick up where you left off is the instinct, but the reality is that you are changed. The world you left behind becomes a garment outgrown, never fitting the same again. And only the person who also left a piece of themselves on that same mountain will understand.

Was I seconds away from strangling Kate Winslet when she walked away at the end? Yes. Was I gratified that Idris maintained the limp brought on by his encounter with the bear trap? Yep. Will I want to watch this again. Oh yeah. If this baby is out by Christmas, it’s going on my wish list.

‘Til next time, enjoy the show.

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