Meet Ben Payne and Ashley Martin. The former is a studious journalist departing from Salt Lake City airport to attend a medical conference, though severe weather conditions force him to take the road (flightpath?) less traveled and board a dinky charter plane. He isn’t the only one, as Ashley is also eager to return home to reunite with her fiancé. The two strangers then find themselves crammed into a small aircraft, but tragedy strikes when their pilot suffers a heart attack mid-flight, bringing their plane crashing down into the icy High Uintas Wilderness.
And that’s where The Mountain Between Us gets going in earnest. Charles Martin’s 2011 page-turner was hailed as a touching story of two strangers forced into a desperate life-or-death situation, one that is as much about the emotional journey as it is the literal pilgrimage that Ben and Ashley must endure.
Thrusting two ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances isn’t exactly a pitch that will redefine modern cinema, but as today’s first trailer attests, The Mountain Between Us is shaping up to be a grueling tale of hope and survival set against the biting wilderness of High Uintas. Anchored by Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, perhaps the most impressive quality of Hany Abu-Assad’s big-screen adaptation is the commitment to practical effects, as it invokes that primal fear of isolation that you just can’t replicate via green screen technology – no matter how immersive the CGI proves to be.
Also starring Dermot Mulroney (The Grey) as Ashley’s far-flung fiancé and Beau Bridges, The Mountain Between Us will begin to peer over the horizon in time for October 20th. Whether you consider Hany Abu-Assad’s chilling adaptation to be an early Oscar candidate will no doubt hinge on your tolerance for melodrama, but it’ll no doubt be interesting to see how the romance/survival drama fares with moviegoers in a few months’ time.