1991 Directed by Bernt Capra. Starring Liv Ullman, Sam Waterston, John Heard, Ione Skye.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 28, 1992
In a time when the corruptive machinations of the Hollywood system seem to have snaked their way into nearly every aspect of “the Industry,” it's a joy to find a film as resolutely honest and non-conventional as Bernt Capra's Mindwalk. Based upon the book The Turning Point by Fritjof Capra, the film at first appears to be no more than a filmic record of a wandering conversation between its three stars as they meander about the parapets and terraces of the islet of Mont St. Michel, a crumbling island ruin one mile off the French coast of the British Channel. There are no car chases here, and no guns, no mismatched buddies, no adorable 12-year-olds, no aliens, no airliners in peril… in short, nothing that would interest the average Hollywood-blinded filmgoer. What Capra's film does offer, however, is an exploratory and insightful web of conversation that further engrosses the viewer with each new topic. Waterston plays Jack Edwards, a failed U.S. presidential hopeful, who, along with his old friend Thomas Harriman (Heard), has come to the French coast to relax and clarify his sense of “vision.” While exploring an ancient castle/tourist trap upon the islet, the two men find themselves sharing their ideas on life, love, and the environment with fellow emotional-expatriate Sonia Hoffman (Ullman), a strikingly intelligent American physicist who claims to be on a “semi-permanent sabbatical” on the islet. Again, there is no dramatic plot to speak of; the camera instead follows the trio around the battlements as they exchange some of the most interesting and intellectually stimulating conversation I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. Their topics range from Sonia's theories on the relationship of man to his environment -- on a sub-atomic level, no less -- to politician Jack's inability to come to grips with the “big picture.” There are two diametrically opposed schools of thought at work here, and it's terribly engaging to see them at work on each other. The press kit for Mindwalk labels it “a film for passionate thinkers,” but it is much more than that. It is also a film for anyone who ever believed in their ideals and struggled to think them through to their natural conclusions. Saving the world begins with a mutually understandable dialogue between interested parties, and this film is that. Like the ideas expressed within, Bernt Capra's Mindwalk is sheer brilliance.