The Mountain Between Us

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
The Mountain Between Us Movie Poster Image
Mountain trek peril in non-scary but well-acted romance.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 14 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Two people put aside their differences to survive in an extremely dangerous environment. Perseverance pays off.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both main characters are smart, brave, and extremely even tempered. Ben, particularly, is ingenious, honorable, and courageous. One main character is engaged but pursues romance elsewhere. In terms of diversity, half the main cast (which is all of two characters) is female, and the other half is black.


Frequent peril/tension, but no graphic violence shown on-screen. Post-plane-crash injuries and a death. A character's leg is caught in a bear trap. Offscreen fight between a cougar and a dog. 


A sensual sex scene includes kissing, moaning, and near-nudity (male chest, female abdomen and cleavage), but it's not explicit in that no genitals/sensitive body parts are shown. Alex briefly wears a see-through top that makes her nipples fairly visible. Additional scenes of a shirtless man.


One instance of "f---ing" used in frustration, plus "s--t," "damn," "hell," and "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Mountain Between Us, based on Charles Martin's novel of the same name, tells the story of two strangers (Idris Elba and Kate Winslet) stuck in the snowy wilderness after a tragic plane crash. Expect scenes of mountain trek peril, but there's no graphic violence. (Spoiler alert!) Post-plane-crash injuries are shown, there's some danger to a dog, and one character's leg is caught in a bear trap. A sensual sex scene includes kissing, moaning, and near-nudity, and a shirtless man is shown more than once. The primary concern for younger viewers will be tension/worry over whether the main characters (including the dog) can survive. But it's not exactly a nail-biter, and the characters -- who exhibit courage and perseverance -- never really show any realistic effects of weeks of deprivation, making it a fairly "safe" experience, as survival stories go.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byAlexa W. January 13, 2018

I don't even know

There is a sex scene, when they are in the cabin, this is easily skipped because thay start kissing first. There is very little violence: the dog gets a little... Continue reading
Adult Written byMary S. October 15, 2017

Graphic Sex Scene

So upset Common Sense didn't tell me this!!! I didn't take my kids and you shouldn't either. The movie is a boring mess anyway. But the sex sce... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKingRobert December 25, 2017

A bit ruined

I would have liked this movie better if it didn't have any sex.
Teen, 13 years old Written byRenaee March 14, 2021
I really enjoyed this movie -there is one sex scene, but it isn’t too graphic, as in, there is no nudity.

What's the story?

In THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US, a doctor named Ben (Idris Elba) and a photojournalist named Alex (Kate Winslet) survive a plane crash, only to find themselves injured and stranded in the high mountain wilderness. Along with a trusty dog, Alex and Ben use their intelligence and grit to try to reach civilization through a cold and hazardous environment. And despite her impending marriage and his mysterious past, the pair find themselves drawn to each other during their ordeal.

Is it any good?

This romantic drama is most compelling as a mild story of survival adventure. Contemporary romances often stumble over the first hurdle: Their dramatic obstacle. In this age of global communications and (presumed) enlightenment, what is there to keep true lovers apart? As the title implies, The Mountain Between Us comes with a fair-sized obstacle built in: The titular mountain, in winter, as the protagonists survive a plane crash atop it and struggle to descend it to civilization. So in this case, the apparent obstacle is actually what brings them together, sort of like Titanic, which also starred Winslet. Here, she plays plucky photojournalist Alex, opposite Elba as ingenious but calm neurosurgeon Ben. Alex's active nature is the catalyst to keep things moving, which is something, because otherwise the movie plays like Ben saving them, over and over.

Alex and Ben's struggle is interesting because survival stories are, by nature, interesting and because Winslet and Elba are excellent actors. They absolutely carry the movie, keeping the stakes high and the dangers real, even when the filmmaking tends toward the unfortunately sanitized. This isn't a gritty or harrowing experience à la Alive or The Grey. Physical and emotional realities are brushed aside in favor of a budding romance. Why, for instance, do we not see the effects of wind, snow, sun exposure, and starvation on Alex and Ben's faces and bodies as their ordeal stretches over a month? His ribs are broken, but he does a heck of a lot of stuff that would be difficult for a perfectly healthy, well-nourished person. And as even-keeled as they may be, Alex and Ben's language seems downright polite for folks facing what they think is certain death. Director Hany Abu-Assad (two-time Oscar nominee for Paradise Now and Omar) does bravura work in the plane crash scene, which is presented as one continuous take. But when the characters aren't in danger of dying, their story tends toward schmaltz. Without an actual mountain between them (and survival), the obstacles keeping them apart lose their potency – and so does the film. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why they think the filmmakers of The Mountain Between Us chose not to show the realistically gritty side of the characters' extreme situation. Would showing the characters starving and in conflict have made their romance harder to believe?

  • How do the characters exhibit courage and perseverance? Why are those important character strengths?

  • Were you surprised at the direction Alex and Ben's relationship took during their ordeal? What would you have done differently in their situation? 

Movie details

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