By Betty Johnson (Florence, Oregon, USA)

 

Possibly I shouldn’t read or listen to any book a movie is based on beforehand but this time I did and was extremely disappointed in what I saw on the big screen. I realize that most movies only follow a portion of the book they are based on but even saying “loosely based upon” is an indecent overstatement. In and of itself the movie wasn’t terrible, but it’s really just a buildup for an interracial sex scene that never happened between two characters who bear no resemblance to who they are in the book.

It seems obvious that Kate Winslet wasn’t going to take second to anyone no matter what the book was actually about. A disservice was done here both to the author and the main character and my guess is Winslet just wanted another notch on her bedpost while claiming all the glory and the director wanted her name on the credits. Winslet/Alex completely emasculated Idris Elba/Dr. Ben Bass (Payne) by hijacking the lead role from what was a lovely male character leaving the audience wondering 1. What was the real point of the movie, and 2. (at least for me) Why bother?

The movie version of The Mountain Between Us was a gross corruption of the book by the same name from the opening scene to the ending. The only commonalities with the original story were the plane crashing, the skin color of the main characters, a dog onboard (though it should have been a Jack Russell Terrier) and the wilderness area. The director changed or deleted entirely the really good bits and the audience is left with a supporting male character that’s been reduced to a simpering, second rate doctor whose full name and reason for living we never get to know and who is seemingly bound to survive only by the instincts of an overbearing impulsive female lead… she even swoops in to save the day in the end… a travesty in my mind. In the book Alex (Winslet) is no wimp, not by a long shot; she is beautiful, strong-willed and witty with a deep courageous streak that helps keep Ben focused on their survival, but she was never the lead character.

The original premise of the story was one of deep respect and lasting love, genuine courage, morals and loyalty which may be why Hollywood had to change it. I was truly looking forward to seeing how the director and writers handled Ben’s memory scenes, the doctoring of Alex and in general the overall filming. There was no sex in the book and the respect Ben had for his wife as well as Alex and Vince made the whole story worth cheering for, but in the movie that scene along with everything else portrayed was just a desperate, ugly betrayal of the characters in Charles Martin’s book.

My suggestion: If you haven’t seen the movie and want to, do so prior to reading or listening. When you leave the theater thinking, “Wow, that was okay but I expected so much more,” remember, you CAN have so much more. Just listen to or read the book.

Rating: 2/5

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