“The Mountain Between Us”

A private pilot with no flight plan would make most frequent flyers a tad uneasy, but when you have to make your own wedding or perform a life-saving surgery on a small boy, qualms get pushed to the back seat. This survival romance film is enjoyable even with the narrative details flying in the wind. Not a film for realists, “The Mountain Between Us” oozes a morality rarely seen in modern film. Selfish and reckless are replaced by intense responsibility for others. Fiancés don’t plot revenge on their competition, and dogs don’t seem to thin with lack of sustenance. Lovers don’t call if you are married. Sex is just as romantic sans bathing for weeks on end. Yet, the visuals are breathtakingly beautiful above and below the tree line, and above and below streams and frozen pools.

Kate Winslet is Alex. She is not a person who waits patiently, and she trusts her instincts to problem solve. A photo-journalist by profession, Alex shoots a cougar with a flare gun as easily as she snaps a picture. She has determination to spare as she treks through snow mounds with an injured leg. The handsome Idris Elba is the new Ben Casey, neurosurgeon hunk. He is Ben Bass to squelch any confusion. Ben is logical, has endured personal tragedy, and believes the first rule of survival is “stick together”. This is the trust walk of all trust walks. His instinct tells him that they are going to die on the mountain. Ben and Kate save each other numerous times. Grief and survival mix with a found cabin stocked with two cans of soup. Somehow we know that they will make it, but we worry about the golden lab.

Beau Bridges and Dermot Melroney make up the supporting cast. They are equally fine actors. Bridges as the Vietnam vet charter pilot who dies mid-air of a stroke is perfect charm and surprise. Melroney is Mark, the fiancé who knows how to let his love go. Director Haney Abu-Assad does a marvelous job with the plane crash, the perilous ice slides, and the frozen lake plunges. The ice cave and hillside shelters, the low lying clouds, and the sunsets are all romantic balances to the harsh pains of starvation.

The ending may take me to the Charles Martin novel. I can’t imagine anyone getting away with a running sidewalk scene outside of LaLa land.

“The Dressmaker”

Though I deeply admire the acting of Kate Winslet, I intensely disliked this film. It was messy, derivative , and poorly written and directed. The characterized types whom basically posed or over- acted were so petty and self-serving that the revenge of the final conflagration seemed petty, too. Why did the classy Winslet take part in this mish-mash of farce, slap-stick, romance, pseudo western revenge , noir comedy ! ” The Dressmaker” is a Coen Brothers knock-off without the snappy dialogue.

Where to begin. The first forty minutes were tedious as innumerable characters pranced through the dire , presumably, Australian set. Eccentricity alone does not a cast make, and stereotypes from cross-dressers to unfaithful husbands brought no enlightenment to our psyches. Winslet, though beautiful, was a decade or two too old for her romantic interest, who ended up suffocating in a silo of rat-infested sorghum for no purpose. Winslet is forty and Liam Helmsworth, the love interest is twenty-six. You notice the age disparity and it matters here.

The gowns created by our returning, exiled-at-ten , pseudo-murderer were stunning. The over-acting of seamstress mother not so much so. Her ( Judy Davis’s ) death scene being one of the worst. Cast looked like they were having fun, but I am sorry I paid to watch them play slap-stick,laughing -stocks.

Revenge-driven themes are never my favorite. Pettiness and innuendo are maddening , but  “The Help” (2011), which stuck to comedic farce did a better job of evening the justice score. Missing in “The Dressmaker” is any  dialogue worth repeating, or any consistent characterizations. Mixing genres can be fun. This time it did not work. Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse needs to re-shoot this one after someone actually writes a script.