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The Mountain Between Us

A plane crash in mountainous terrain brings together two strangers on different emotional flight paths in director Hany Abu-Assad's romantic drama. Based on the novel by Charles Martin, The Mountain Between Us is a gooey collision of beautiful people in peril: a female photographer on assignment for a national UK newspaper for a story about neo-Nazis, and a gifted male neurosurgeon, who asserts the brain is the most important organ in the body. "What about the heart?" she asks. "It's nothing but a muscle," he replies dismissively. Abu-Assad's picture, adapted for the screen by Chris Weitz and J Mills Goodloe, pays considerably more attention to the heart than the brain, orchestrating an impossible yet irresistible attraction between two people who shouldn't be together, a la The Bridges Of Madison County. The script goes into freefall well before a bravura crash sequence, which the director seemingly captures in a single fluid take, his camera gliding back and forth inside the claustrophobic fuselage until the inevitable, sickening plunge towards terra firma. Oscar winner Kate Winslet and Golden Globe winner Idris Elba don't have a great deal to work with but both actors threaten to melt the 10 inches of spring snow with their lustful glances and heartfelt delivery of corny dialogue. Storm clouds amass over Salt Lake City, grounding all commercial flights. Photojournalist Alex Martin (Winslet) is poised to marry her fiance Mark (Dermot Mulroney) the following day in New York. She charters a two-person plane for 800 US dollars from avuncular pilot Walter (Beau Bridges), who fought and flew during Vietnam. "As long as nobody's shooting at me, I'll get you there," he promises. Alex offers the second seat to Dr Ben Bass (Elba), who needs to operate on patients in Manhattan. During the subsequent flight, Walter suffers a stroke and the plane careens into a snow-laden peak in the High Uintas Wilderness. Walter perishes while Ben suffers bruises and a couple of broken ribs, and Alex's leg is badly injured. The surgeon fashions a makeshift brace and when Alex regains consciousness, the strangers confront the terrifying reality that Walter didn't log a flight plan so they must rely on each other. "We might die together and I don't even know you," mourns Alex, who knows her fracture will impede rescue as they brave sub-zero temperatures and natural predators. The Mountain Between Us remains airborne thanks to Winslet and Elba, who compel us to believe in their unlikely coupling. The addition of a golden Labrador - the dead pilot's pet companion - ups the cute factor as Abu-Assad shoots his radiant duo against a picture perfect array of frost-bitten backdrops. A final destination is clearly telegraphed far in advance of the softly lit, breathless sex scene. Don't expect much turbulence before landing.