On the surface, 20th Century Fox’s The Mountain Between Us is a survival film about a photographer Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) and a medical doctor Ben Bass (Idris Elba) whose chartered prop plane crashes in a snowy Utah mountain range. Without cell phone signals or any signs of human life, they assist each other in their fight to stay alive and venture to a place where there actually might be some life.
But there’s a few moments during the film, when one realizes that The Mountain Between Us might actually be an allegory about a divided America and globe, particularly during these Trump times; one in which communication has broken down. Bass lies to Martin about the current state of his marriage, while Martin secretly listens to Bass’ voice mails behind his back. You couldn’t ask for a more severe breakdown in trust between two people when their lives are in peril. As the two reach an oasis at a cold abandoned house, we see on the window a quarter fallen U.S. flag on the window; a sign that we’re not really OK as nation. We’ve fallen a bit.
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“Communication is a running theme in this movie. They have no communication, nobody knows where they are, the pilot didn’t file a flight plan, I didn’t call my husband to tell him what I was doing, he didn’t speak to his wife. No one knows where they are. Then you have two strangers who have to communicate to survive. You can liken that to how the world is now. Think about Hurricane Irma. There are those people in the British Virgin Islands who do not know that Jose is coming because they have no communication. It’s terrifying,” says Winslet
“In our world at this point, strangers are battling strangers all the time and there is a complete wall in between communications, as soon as that wall is down, people communicate” says Elba.
In addition, Winslet and Elba talk about shooting at a frozen level of 10,000 feet. Everyday during the shoot, the actress quipped, she’d ask the make-up bus “Did we actually do any decent acting yesterday at all? I swear I cannot remember a thing we did…In that level of cold your brain freezes as well.”
The Mountain Between Us hits theaters on Oct. 6.
Deadline Studio at TIFF 2017 is presented by Calii Love, Watford Group, Philosophy Canada, and Equinox. Special thanks to Dan Gunam at Calii Love for location and production assistance; and Ontario Camera for equipment assistance. Video producer: Meaghan Gable; lighting and camera: Neil Hansen; design: Dialla Kawar; sound recording: Ida Jokinen.
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