The trailer for this film looked cheesy and ridiculous and I had to wonder what two very fine English actors – Idris Elba and Academy Award Winner Kate Winslet – were thinking when signing the dotted line. However, the canny marketing campaign, which put out a tweet saying “Spoiler Alert – The Dog Lives!” definitely worked on hooking me in. The other selling point was the promise that whilst stranded on a mountain with no food or water, Kate and Idris somehow manage to get it on. This film now had my attention and I consider it my solemn duty to report back to you, dear readers on whether the Sexy Mountain film lived up to all this sexy potential.
Winslet plays Alex, an American photojournalist and Elba plays Ben, an actual brain surgeon with his actual English accent (steady on ladies). The ‘meet-cute’* is that they’re trying to get a normal sized plane, but it’s too stormy, so they get a tiny plane instead. One of these people is a brain surgeon. Lovely crinkly Beau Bridges pilots the little plane for them and insists on bringing his Dog With No Name for reasons. It only costs $800 to get the private plane, so that’s how I’m going to do all my travel from now on. The little plane is flying over the stormy mountains and Beau Bridges suffers a stroke, causing the plane to crash. But ‘oh-oh’ the pilot didn’t file a flight plan (for further reasons) and no one knows where they are! Or even that they were on a plane in the first place.
Alex’s leg is broken, which means Ben immediately has to go into caring doctor mode. There follows an extended period where they argue about whether they should stay put or go for help. The characters have seen ‘Casablanca’, but clearly haven’t seen ‘Alive’ or ‘Touching the Void’, which is a shame because they are based on reality not ridiculousness and therefore would be helpful in this situation. There IS animal peril in this film, in the form of a traumatic scene featuring a mountain lion, but the dog is OK! Genuinely, watching the dog frolic in the snow was the only thing that got me through this film. Oh and there’s a bit where snowflakes are stuck on Idris’ eyelashes and it’s so pure it almost redeems the entire operation. They eventually agree that they’re going to have to set off in search of help and it’s lucky they packed such warm coats and sensible boots. Alex talks about her fiancee, who she was supposed to be on her way to marry. Ben doesn’t talk about his wife but Alex finds out about her (or thinks she does) through her disembodied voice.
They eventually find a cabin, where they shack up for a bit. And… there’s a sex scene. And it’s one of the worst sex scenes I’ve ever seen in my life. This whole film is so badly edited, but it’s especially criminal here, where it manages to take any tension or romance out of a love scene featuring two very beautiful people by flashing back to little moments they’ve shared and just the memory of it is upsetting me. ‘Out of Sight’ this is not. I’m trying not to laden this review with too many spoilers, but the end of this film has a scene that is so cheesy, I had to watch it through my fingers. Again, editorial choices were made and they are not good. I cringed so hard watching it, my body almost inverted and just thinking about it now is making the bile rise within me.
I just don’t know what to tell you. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. Beautiful people, beautiful scenery. It’s hard to screw that up. But they really did.
*this is a reference to another Winslet film, ‘The Holiday’. It has snow in it. Watch that instead.
Directed By: Hany Abu-Assad
Cast: Idris Elba, Kate Winselt, Beau Bridges