Warning: Spoilers ahead.
The Mountain Between Us is triggering. Being involved in a plane crash with a stranger is kind of my worst nightmare, and the terrifying thought of it momentarily crosses my mind every time I board a flight. If you don’t already identify with this, you will after you see the film, which stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. The romantic thriller nailed the "thrilling" part of its descriptor. I could have sworn I was experiencing shortness of breath while I sat in the screening room. It was a great movie experience. As for the romance, though? I think there was an oversight.
Alex Martin (Winslet) and Dr. Ben Bass (Elba) meet by chance when they both end up stranded at the same airport due to stormy weather. Alex, a photojournalist, is trying to get to her wedding, which is the next day. Ben has to perform emergency surgery somewhere else. There are no commercial flights leaving that airport, but Alex gets the idea to hire an independent pilot to fly them to another airport where they can access outbound flights. In what has to be a case of the worst luck ever, the pilot has a fatal stroke mid flight, and the small plane crashes into the snowy mountains. The fact that Alex and Ben survived the impact would be a relief if they weren't also lost in the wilderness as a result.
If you're feeling stressed, that makes sense. But even under these conditions — which they endure for over a month! — Alex and Ben manage to find solace in each other as they brave the freezing cold in the middle of nowhere. They even fall in love. I get it. You can’t help who you love. But for me at least, there are some things that will stop me from having sex with that person, regardless of how I feel. And when Alex and Ben decide to hook up after weeks of build-up, I couldn’t shake the thought that if this were the real world, it would be a pretty icky encounter, even if one of the participants is technically Idris Elba.
When their plane crashed, Alex injured her leg badly. It left her with a nasty gash, and she was hardly able to stave off infection. An open wound is probably the most unsexy thing that can happen to the human body. Without access to antibiotics or anesthesia, I can’t say I’d be “in the mood.” When they slept together, Alex had recently awaken from a comatose state brought on by hypothermia after she fell into a frozen lake. She was weak and hungry. When I’m hungry, I don’t even want to talk to another human being, let alone unite our bodies for sex.
But the ultimate deal breaker for me is that they had already been stuck in the wilderness for several weeks when they found an abandoned cabin and finally warmed up enough to get busy. Neither of them had showered or even brushed their teeth during that time. The sex scene was steamy and intense on screen, but in the real world there are some unavoidable variables to consider — primarily bodily functions. For example, Winslet had to film the scene with her socks on because Elba has a foot fetish. He didn't want his bodily functions to stop him from being professional. And even human beings with the bone structures of these two actors smell “differently” if they forgo soap and water for extended periods of time. Alex and Ben had been pushing their bodies to the limit trying to get down the mountain and find shelter. I have no clue how Alex dealt with her period when or if it came. Sex under those circumstances would have been absolutely putrid. Not to be gross but… gross.
It’s not uncommon for love stories to feel like a bit of a reach as a backdrop for intense action. This isn’t entirely the case in The Mountain Between Us. It just came on a little strong, no pun intended.