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The Melodrama Between Us (The Mountain Between Us Review)

So a big movie was released today and I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for me to talk about it. I’ve been waiting for it for quite a while. Ever since the trailer first came out and it just looked awesome. Obviously I’m talking about The Mountain Between Us. What else were you thinking? Wait, there was another big movie that came out today? Bah, who cares about that? Ok, fine… I saw it too… I’ll get to it later. But I’m going to do them in the order I saw them in.

So yeah, I actually was looking forward to this one from the moment I saw the trailer. It just seemed like a cool concept. Based on the book of the same name, it is the story of two strangers, Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, are trying to get home when their flight is cancelled. He’s a doctor with a very important surgery scheduled in the morning. She’s a photojournalist trying to get home from assignment because her wedding is tomorrow. So they charter a plane only to have it crash in the mountains and then they must rely on each other for survival. Drama ensues.

Or melodrama.

This is one of those films that it is more or less impossible to review without spoilers. I usually hate to give spoilers, but really the basic premise of the movie is pretty much right there in the marketing material. I already gave you the basic concept. Except for the “twist.” Honestly, I don’t think most people who bother to read my reviews are going to go see this anyway, so i figure it’s ok to spoil it. But this is your last warning. So if you don’t want to know, I’m about to tell you. Are you ready?

They fall in love.

Stunned, aren’t you? You’re not? You expected it all along by virtue of the fact that the movie stars Idris Elba and who’s not going to fall in love with him if you’re trapped on a  mountain? You expected it all along by virtue of the fact that the movie stars Kate Winslet and pretty much every movie she’s ever been in has been about someone falling in love with her. Yeah… well, that’s kind of a problem with the film.

See, it’s not really a survival thriller. That really should surprise anyone, even though it was kind of marketed that way. The film just sort of screams “chick flick” even though it’s pretending not to be. And it’s not just a chick flick. It’s damn near a Lifetime movie. Only it’s a lifetime movie produced on a $35million budget. It probably didn’t need to be.You didn’t need stars of this caliber to make the movie work. In fact it would have been fine with some aging stars from 90s, like any other Lifetime movie. In fact it might have been better.

Not better acted. The nice thing about the film is that Winslet and Elba are really fucking good actors. And they give it everything they’ve got for this movie. It’s just that script isn’t up to it. It’s not bad or anything. It’s just that there’s not much to it. The plane crash happens pretty early on and then there’s a lot of exactly what you might expect from a  survival movie. You know, a lot of man (and woman) vs the elements with quite a bit of “we need to move or we might die” vs. “we should stay here so that the rescuers know where to find us” and throw in a dose of “but no one is looking for us because no one knows we were here since we didn’t file a flight plan.” This might be a little compelling except for its all just overly obvious and convenient and was all ruined but the trailer. So you pretty much just see it all coming and it seems kind of forced. And two lesser actors could have gotten away with it maybe. But part of me just couldn’t help feeling that Elba and Winslet could both do better than this, and it kind of distracted me from he film. In fact, I had a hard time forgetting that I was watching those two actors, which is why I keep referring to them by their real names and not their character names.

On top of that, they’re both very very attractive, and so you spend a lot of the movie just waiting for them to fuck.

See… I say stuff like that a lot. I’m all about fucking. I think everyone should fuck. Really, fucking is great. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. And see, from the moment the plane crashed and they were stuck together just sitting in the snow with nothing to do for several days, I found myself asking “why aren’t they fucking? God knows if I were trapped one a mountain with that dreamy Idris Elba, I’d fuck him… I mean, that dreamy Kate Winslet… yeah, that’s what I meant… really… I’m straight, I swear…”

But see, I think stuff like that all the time. I’m always looking for sexual tension. And a lot of times people say I’m just writing sex int things where it has no place.

And then they fuck.

Yep. Did you see that twist coming?. You did? Yeah… I thought so.

It’s sort of unsatisfying really. It feels a little artificial. They’ve been trapped together on this mountain for like a month. Becoming friends and growing closer as they rely on each other. But not really romantically. The film actually does a pretty good job of not making it all about sex for the first half. But after a month of being bored, they have a small argument, and the Idris says he needs to get some firewood. But instead Kate kisses him and then he forgets all about firewood and they have some nice grimy, haven’t showered in a month mountain sex. You know, as you do.

Then they make their way down the mountain and are rescued. The lesson here kids, is that if you’re ever trapped int he wilderness with someone, fuck right away. It gets you back to civilization faster.

Really, they have to make it down the mountain… because if they don’t how else will Kate be reunited with her fiancé? Because that totally has to happen so that there can be some new drama between her and Idris’s relationship. Oh yeah… he loves her now. Did I mention that? Apparently because she fucks real good. Seriously, we’re not really given much more reason than that.

This is kind of a thing with movie sex. Movies want sex to always be about a relationship. And I mean, fine, I get that some people need a relationship to want to have sex. But they’re not the same thing. And this movie, like many others (I complained about it in my Wonder Woman review), uses sex as sort of a short cut to say “and so they’re in a relationship now.” “They’re totally in love!” “They must be together because of how they had sex that one time!” It doesn’t work like that. Seriously, someone volunteer. I will totally fuck you. You’ll have a great time. And yet I assure you, we won’t be in love… at least no more than we were before. Or at least I won’t be. And that might have made the movie better. If they had gotten down the mountain and Idris was totally in love because that was some quality fucking and Kate had just said “Dude, sorry… I mean, the fucking was great and all, but I had been trapped on a mountain near death for a month and I just got really horny. So I’m going to go get married now. See you when I see you!” And roll credits. Now THAT would have been a good twist.

But that’s not what we get. Instead, the film decides that as an audience we need a romantic subplot that resolves in a happy ending. So when they get down the mountain, Idris wants to profess his undying love. But the fiancé is there, so he doesn’t. So Kate goes off with fiancé and Idris never returns her calls because he doesn’t want to get in the way of the marriage. And this shit goes on for another half an hour at least. It’s supposed to be dramatic. We’re supposed to feel torn up because these star crossed lovers can’t be together. Instead, I just kind of feel bad for her fiancé because dude seems kind of nice and he really has no idea what’s going on. After Kate eventually leaves him, she meets up with Idris for dinner so they can discuss their relationship and how they fell in love on the mountain — yes, they both say it in these words because apparently they saw a different movie than I did — but they can’t be together because… umm… reasons? Like, I guess… I mean, there’s no good reason at all, Kate just announces that they’ve both moved on even though they haven’t, and when Idris tries to say that he hasn’t, she walks away from him… so they both walk off in opposite directions lamenting the love they lost (you know, from that one time they fucked)… and they get a block away from each other before they realize that this is stupid and there’s actually nothing stopping them from being together, so they both turn and run back to each other so they can finally be together! I think… the film cuts to black and rolls credits just before they kiss each so they probably got together… or maybe an asteroid destroyed the earth. It’s actually not totally clear.

That said, I didn’t actually hate this movie. It’s hard to say it’s bad because Elba and Winslet really do a  good job with what they have to work with… at least up until that their act where they’re off the mountain and there are no stakes whatsoever. It’s a melodramatic waste of time, but they do their best to sell it without overacting. In fact, their performances are almost subtle given what they’re working with. If you’re a survival movie fan, it’s kind of by the numbers, except for the last act which will annoy the hell out of you. If you’re romance melodrama fan, its probably a little slow and you might feel like it drags a bit. But on a good note, you get to see Kate Winslet and Idris Elba fuck, and that’s worth something, isn’t it?

★★⅖☆☆ (2.4 out of 5 stars)

I promise I’ll review that other movie when I wake up.

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