In a year of appalling, gawd-awful sequels and repeatedly renewed franchise films, when Priyanka Chopra made her Hollywood debut with what is arguably the worst film of her career -- yes, "Baywatch Returns" was worse than her Bollywood debut "Andaaz" -- Hollywood came up with a cold turkey. No, make that a frozen turkey -- called "The Mountain Between Us".
Just how much of a hash could be made of a romantic drama featuring two charismatic actors like Idris Elba and Kate Winslet is a question that this film answers with telling force.
There were two things that kept me watching till the very end of this survival drama, where the question whether the lead pair would live through the air crash or not was overtaken by a larger concern, whether I, the viewer, would survive the ordeal of watching this disaster.
I did. That's the good news. I kept watching till the corny end when Elba and Winslet rushed towards each other from two corners of London's crowded street to collide in a clinch that "Titanic" would have welcomed. I was there, glued, because I wanted to know when the gorgeous pair would make love.
Elba and Winslet are, on paper, such a sexy pair that you just want them to hit the sack immediately after the plane crashes. But the narrative, hell bent on torture, procrastinates on the inevitable copulation. And when it does happen, the love-making sequence in an abandoned snow-drenched cabin, with a canine watching, is a joke. Rather, a horny misadventure.
Fumbling and grasping at all the wrong places, while moaning and cooing in encouragement, Winslet seems to be practising for a Titanic sequel that would never happen. As for Elba, there are enough jokes about the "mountain" that he brings with him wherever he goes.
I wish he had worked on not turning it into a molehill.
Elba's excuse is that he had not done a love-making scene before, so he left the nitty-gritty of the act to his co-star, who in her time has done plenty of the torrid with co-stars as young as 14 ("The Reader").
Love-making scenes in the movies are, more often than not, hilarious -- and very awkward to perform. Actor Ray Romano has spoken about how awkward love scenes can get because -- and I quote - "I know it's fake, but he (pointing to his pelvic region) doesn't."
The other interesting aspect in an otherwise drab and dull drama that is "The Mountain Between Us" is the "colour blindness" of the lead pair. In case you didn't notice, Idris is Black, Winslet is White. Not once during their tedious togetherness is this fact mentioned. For all we know, Idris Elba could be White.
This is an inverted kind of racism where in the garb of liberalism the cultural specificity of the actor is magically erased from the script.
"You are Black. But I love you just the same" is the theme song underlining this race-removed romance.
Chalo, at least Hollywood is making an effort to free cinema of colour prejudice. In India, Shah Rukh Khan is still selling "fairness" creams to a country obsessed with the gora rang.
(Subhash K. Jha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )