A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III
MOVIE: 1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Charlie Sheen as CHARLES SWAN III
Jason Schwartzman as KIRBY STAR
Bill Murray as SAUL
Katheryn Winnick as IVANA
Patricia Arquette as IZZY
Aubrey Plaza as MARNIE
Directed by: Roman Coppola
BY KEVIN CARR
I’ll admit it: I was curious about “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III.” After all, it was put through production after the much-publicized public meltdown of Charlie Sheen following his firing from “Two and a Half Men.” It was the first real project I saw on his horizon since the incident (of course, I’m not including his high-profile insane live show tour, which was a train wreck in and of itself)., and the description of the character seemed to eerily fit the bipolar actor’s real-life personality.
Missing any festival play and VOD options, I finally got a chance to see the film on Blu-ray. Before watching it, I was doubly curious because it was written and directed by Roman Coppola. It wasn’t his relation to powerhouse director Francis Ford Coppola that caught my eye. Instead, it was Roman Coppola’s work on Wes Anderson’s brilliant film “Moonrise Kingdom” that had me curious.
And boy, was this film a disappointment.
Yet in its disappointment were a few gems and a certain amount of predictability.
“A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” tells the story of a well-off graphic designer named Charles Swan III (Sheen) in the 1970s who breaks up with his girlfriend Ivana (Kathryn Winnick) after she discovers he keeps her picture (presumably of them having sex) in a drawer with all the other women he’s had sex with. Suffering a psychosomatic emotional breakdown that lands him in the hospital, Swan is forced to examine his life and try to curb his destructive behavior.
In a certain way, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” was exactly what I expected: a Walter Mitty approach to justify the decadent and pathetic life of Charlie Sheen. I’m not sure if this is exactly what Coppola intended, or if he was just expecting Sheen to play to type, but either way, the news story behind the lead actor was hard to ignore.
Though the film features an interesting array of quirky characters – from Swan’s comedian best friend (Jason Schwartzman) to his business manager, both of whom appear in his on-the-fly fantasies (Bill Murray) – the film drowns in a morass of horrible, awful people.
Even when Swan’s sister (Patricia Arquette) shows up to help him through recovery, there’s no sympathy. He’s a character with the means to have whatever he desires, but he’s so weighted down by his own hedonistic selfishness that I couldn’t care for him at all. And there’s nothing learned by the characters in the film at the end of the story… just the most bizarre curtain call you’ll see in a while.
There are some neat design elements which, if you believe what is said in the bonus features, the production team spent more time developing than the actual likeability of the characters in the film itself. Coming from a retro design feel, at the very least “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” is at least interesting to watch. In the same vein, the Walter Mitty fantasies are something creative and offer something more than a man in a bathrobe wallowing in self pity for 90 minutes. But all the creativity and design of the film couldn’t overcome the general smarminess of Charlie Sheen and his current inability to elicit even the smallest drop of sympathy from an audience with a heartbeat.
The Blu-ray comes with an audio commentary with writer/director Roman Coppola and a 25-minute making-of featurette. Additional bonus material includes an examination of character inspiration Charles White III with “A Glimpse Into the Mind of Charles White III” and an interview with White as well.