Like "My Dinner With Andre," "Mindwalk" is a conversation movie - talk, talk, talk . . . and little else.
Except for ideas. There are plenty of those, and for interested audiences that should be more than enough."Mindwalk" stars Liv Ullman as Sonia, an alienated physicist; Sam Waterston as Jack, a senator fresh from a failed presidential bid; and John Heard as Thomas, a sardonic poet and friend of Jack, once employed as his speechwriter.
The setting is the French island of Mont St. Michel, which provides gorgeous backgrounds for some outdoor shooting, as well as medieval sites that work as appropriate settings for the conversation - chapels, great halls, etc.
The trio comes together outside a cathedral one morning, waiting for it to open. Sonia has recently resigned a position, realizing her research is helping the American defense industry. She is traveling with her daughter (Ione Skye), and with whom she has a strained relationship. Jack is troubled by technology on the rampage and feels it may conflict with his view of America's political base. And Thomas has left America because of its "conservative backlash," content to live in France as an expatriate.
All three are full of concerns and ponderings they need to share, and the opportunity presents itself as they spend most of the day roaming the island and exchanging thoughts.
The talk never seems strained, although it occasionally borders on pretentiousness. And the ideas are thought-provoking, which, of course, is the film's main intent.
There's nothing wrong with a point of view, and here's a movie that not only proposes one, it works hard to make the film's narrative flow work in harmony with its philosophical ambitions.
"Mindwalk" is based on Fritjof Capra's book "The Turning Point," and employs elements of his earlier book "The Tao of Physics." It is co-scripted by Capra and directed by his brother Bernt Capra. Obviously as a labor of love.
In the film, Sonia is apparently intended as Fritjof Capra's voice, preaching a world vision of living in harmony with the environment, but it would be fair to describe Jack and Thomas as other sides of the same voice. While they do debate a bit, none of it is really in opposition to the basic views presented here. And as such, the film will likely reach almost exclusively an audience that shares its view.
This is delicate stuff, to be sure, but the Capras bring it off well and the actors are excellent, investing an enormous amount of heart and sincerity in the material. (Heard's wisecracking sense of humor is especially welcome, given the sober nature of most of the dialogue.)
"Mindwalk" is rated PG for adult themes.