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 18 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

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.

Violence

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. 

Sex

Sensual but non-explicit sex scene includes near-nudity but no sensitive body parts shown. Alex briefly wears a see-through top.

Language

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

Consumerism
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 sex scene includes near-nudity, but it's not even close to explicit. 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

Adult Written bygarrettc October 6, 2017

Way more sex that the common sense media rating indicated

We were very disappointed. I guess I don't know what "elicit" means anymore because this was most definitely elicit, contrary to common sense me... Continue reading
Adult Written bydarlin f. October 7, 2017

deceived by common sense rating, explicit sex scenes

Do not see this movie. It was very explicit in the sex scene and unnecessary to the story line. Common sense media should have had that warning, because then... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old October 8, 2017

Love it!!

was only 1 bad scene.
Teen, 16 years old Written byYllNvrTkeMeAlveCpprs February 5, 2018

Boring, unrealistic survival/love film with leads who have no chemistry...

The Mountain Between Us is a boring, unrealistic survival film. The leads have no chemistry. They probably only casted Idris Elba and Kate Winslet because they... Continue reading

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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