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‘The Mountain Between Us’ review: Kate Winslet and Idris Elba’s chemistry drives film

Idris Elba and Kate Winslet star in a romance about two strangers who survive a plane crash and must journey hundreds of miles across snowy wilderness. (Credit: 20th Century Fox UK)

PLOT After a plane crash, two strangers rely on each other to survive.

CAST Kate Winslet, Idris Elba

RATED PG-13 (sexuality and some scary moments)


BOTTOM LINE An enjoyably silly romance, saved from howler status by its high-class stars.

A pretty photojournalist and a handsome doctor survive a plane crash in “The Mountain Between Us,” but — oh, no! They’re trapped in Utah’s snowy Uinta Mountains with little food and water. Their first thought is: How long can we survive? The audience, however, will be thinking something else entirely: How long before these two have passionate sex?

Surely you knew “The Mountain Between Us” wasn’t going to be a rough-going wilderness tale. Its two heroes, Kate Winslet’s Alex Martin and Idris Elba’s Dr. Ben Bass, are far too beautiful to actually waste away from malnutrition, let alone amputate their own limbs. Unable to fly from Idaho to New York due to inclement weather, they meet in the airport, mutually attracted, perhaps, by their perfect ensembles: she in an adventure-travel parka (she’s been “shooting skinheads” for London’s Guardian newspaper), he in a fabulous camel-colored topcoat. Spunky Alex convinces button-down Ben to share a two-seat Piper flown by Walter (Beau Bridges), a friendly pilot who clearly won’t live long — and down, down they go.

From there, “The Mountain Between Us” becomes a prolonged tease: When will the clothes finally come off? Perhaps when the doctor bandages his patient’s thigh? Or when he drags in a dead cougar for dinner? Or maybe under the makeshift blankets, huddled together for warmth?

No spoilers on the when and where — but truth be told, it’s a satisfyingly erotic moment, as the soon-to-be-married Alex places one hand firmly — ah, but not too firmly — against Ben’s heaving chest. Never mind where Alex found that shiny black lingerie, or where director Hany Abu-Assad thinks the perfect mood-lighting is coming from. This is the movie’s payoff moment, and we’re glad it’s here.

Thankfully, the screenplay by Chris Weitz (“About a Boy”) and J. Mills Goodloe (“Everything, Everything”), based on the novel by Charles Martin, is about as non-insulting to one’s intelligence as a story like this can be. None of it would work, though, without Winslet and Elba, whose smarts and sex-appeal shine through — even with a teensy bit of fake dirt pressed onto their cheeks.

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