Kate Winslet and Idris Elba Fail to Ignite Sparks in Strikingly Beautiful ‘The Mountain Between Us’

In terms of romantic novel adaptations, it is rare that one attracts such A-list talent – and “The Mountain Between Us” proves why. When two strangers, Alex (Kate Winslet), a photojournalist, and Ben (Idris Elba), a neurosurgeon, find themselves in a predicament to get home amidst a canceled flight, the two decide to hire a small plane that can get them back home to Denver. During their flight over the mountainous snowy covered terrain, the pilot (Beau Bridges) suffers a stroke, and the plane makes a crash landing – leaving the survivors, Ben, Alex, and the pilot’s nameless golden Labrador, to trench through the blizzard and reach safety.

The duo’s urgency to return home is conceivable. Alex is eager to return for her big wedding day, and Ben needs to get back to execute an emergency surgery. Other than their common desire to get back to Denver, the two have nothing else in common whatsoever, and their chemistry is nearly non-existent. Ben, who dawns a wedding ring, hardly mentions his wife, while Alex is entirely too eager to return home to her soon-to-be-husband Mark, of whom is ultimately revealed to be played by Dermot Mulroney.

Hesitant to the leave the plane crash, Ben is convinced by Alex to search for help when they see a glimmer in the distance. Following the photojournalists’ gaze and persistence, the two embark on a days-long journey. Along their rather lackluster excursion, the two cuddle up for warmth in the cold winter setting at the filmmaker’s attempt to hint at a blossoming relationship. On their own, the film’s stars are wonderful. Winslet is strong-willed, and Elba is a charming and intelligent man. But together the pair just doesn’t hit the spark. Regardless of their chemistry, the actors however successfully portrayed humanity.

While the quasi-romance fails to ignite, the surroundings are absolutely stunning. Dutch/Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad helms the script penned by J. Mills Goodloe. Adapted from the novel by Charles Martin, Abu-Assad beautifully frames the frozen landscapes. Set in Colorado, but shot in Canada, some of the images captured by Australian D.P. Mandy Walker are worthy enough to belong in an art exhibit. The crisp photography assures the viewer that the film was shot in the harsh conditions of British Columbia winter and not on a Burbank backlot. In the case of “The Mountain Between Us,” the environment provides a raw sense of realism.

The plane crash at the beginning of the film is the most adrenaline that the viewer will endure during the 103-minute runtime.  From that moment on, it is a slow fall down the mountain that never manages to gain engaging traction. The film could have been an interesting story of survival with a romantic spin, but it fails to become fully realized in either aspect – lacking the action or the chemistry to reach full potential. With two high caliber stars, the soapy romance doesn’t leave the viewer caring all too much for our main protagonists. Unfortunately for the film’s favor, many will be rooting for the dog to survive over the two less than intriguing characters.

The Mountain Between Us” opens in theaters Oct. 6.