Much like the Wes Anderson films that feature in Roman Coppola‘s back catalogue, A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III is an aesthetic feast. The soundtrack is groovy; the on-screen graphic effects are quirky; and the Los Angeles setting is picturesque. Unfortunately the film is medicore.
As hard as you try to enjoy Charles Swan III, it still does nothing for you. Essentially it’s a 90-minute film that relies on a few gimmicks to carry it through. They don’t, and the viewers are poorer for it.
As the title suggests, the film delves into the sub-conscious of Charles Swan III (Charlie Sheen) in the aftermath of a failed relationship. The film begins with his lover Ivana (Katheryn Winnick) storming out of his luxurious apartment, leaving Swan III to wallow in his depression and ponder his life.
Sheen, who hasn’t really acted since his early-90s Hot Shots series, plays the only character he knows how to play: himself. The drug-addicted womanising alcoholic indulgently replicates his real life, and even keeps half his name. What this means is that the audience’s perception of Charles Swan III is very much shaped by their pre-conceptions about Sheen.
For fans of Three and a Half Men, Sheen’s character might seem like a broken-hearted victim, whose aspirations for recovery and reconciliation permit an inspirational narrative. For the other 99%, Charles Swan III is nothing but a one-dimensional selfish brat, making much of the film cringeworthy and tiring.
Jason Schwartzman (Kirby Star) and Bill Murray (Saul), two actors with otherwise strong reputations, likewise don’t exhibit much versatility in their sidekick roles. Saul is perennially sad and depressed, while Kirby is loyal but mercurial. This pair – alongside Patricia Arquette‘s Izzy – provide moments of humour and drama, but don’t do enough to compensate for Sheen’s presence.
The best way to describe Charles Swan III is that it feels like an unfunny episode of Family Guy, in which the plot walks off on tangents so wild that it’s easy to forget the primary storyline. Some of these standalone skits are actually the best bits of the film, perhaps for this very reason.
A Glimpse Inside The Mind of Charles Swan III is released on DVD on 14 August through Transmission Films.