'The Mountain Between Us' is a titanic waste of time

Kate Winslet, when featured in love stories linked to serious travel difficulties, is now one for two.

Winslet, of course, starred in Titanic, and perhaps it was some form of typecasting (certainly it wasn’t the script) that brought her to The Mountain Between Us, playing a photojournalist who charters a small plane with a handsome neurosurgeon (Idris Elba) and flies into a winter storm.

The subsequent crash kills the pilot (The Mountain Between Us is easy money for Beau Bridges) and leaves the two stranded on a Rocky Mountain peak, along with the pilot’s dog. At first, their problems have to do with immediate survival. Physician Ben is uninjured, so he tends to the leg wounds of Winslet’s Alex. He nurses her back to consciousness and relatively good health.

Should they stay where they were and hope to be spotted? Roll the dice and hike down the mountain?

This is the kind of phony debate audiences rightly find irritating — as if somebody would make a movie about two crash survivors who dutifully follow procedure, shoot flares, and are promptly rescued.

We know they’re going to hike, but Mountain wastes a good deal of time forcing us to watch the two survivors bickering over strategy — arguments meant to draw contrast between risk-taking Alex and careful, calculating Ben.

Opposites attract, though, right?

Not in this case. The chemistry between these two attractive people and fine actors is unaccountably bad. Winslet keeps asking Elba to check his phone. Do you have battery life? Can you get service? It’s as if she wants him to call Leonardo DiCaprio’s agent.

But they’re stuck together, and we’re stuck with them, as down the mountain they go, hoping to find some vestige of civilization before their food runs out.

And when will the food run out?

The Mountain Between Us doesn’t bother to answer, or give you any sense of how much time has elapsed during their languid trudge through the snow. At night they build fires share confessional stories — Alex talks about the photo that still haunts her, Ben the patient that got away.

“I couldn’t save her,” he said. “She died.”

Thanks for the post script, Doc, but we know what “couldn’t save her” means.

The movie turns on the question of whether, and when, engaged-to-be-married Alex will weaken and start making out with manly, sensitive Ben, who rescues her multiple times, and carries her through the wilderness in his brawny arms.

You’ll be shocked by what happens. Unless you’ve seen Titanic. Or any number of Rock Hudson movies.


The Mountain Between Us

    • Directed by Hany Abu-Assad. With Kate Winslet, Idris Elba, Beau Bridges and Dermot Mulroney. Distributed by 20th Century Fox.

    • Running time: 1 hour, 40 mins.

  • Parents guide:  PG-13 (sexuality, dangerous situations, terrible chemistry)
  • Playing at: Area theaters