A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III


Scattershot and offbeat, “Charles Swan III”‘s strongest attribute is that it’s odd.

Charles Swan III (Charlie Sheen) is a famous Hollywood graphic designer. He’s wealthy and a touch eccentric, but his business affords him to be. When his girlfriend Ivana (Katheryn Winnick) leaves him, after discovering his trove of pictures of his exes in various stages of undress, Charles has a bit of a breakdown.

After trying to throw a garbage bag full of her shoes into a canyon, Charles’s car (with him in it) rolls backwards down the steep hillside and winds up in someone’s swimming pool. While in the hospital, he experiences a series of hallucinations and/or fever dreams involving him, her, his best friend (Jason Schwartzman) and his business manager (Bill Murray). The battle of the sexes masquerading as hostile game of Cowboys and Indians, a rescue fantasy where he saves his ex from nazis, an espionage scene… Swan’s imagination jumps all over the road.

When he’s let out, however, his visions settle down as he’s forced to confront the fact that he’s lost his girl, has family relationship issues, and his business may be facing problems as well.

“A Glimpse Into the Mind of Charles Swan III” feels a bit like a Wes Anderson film, and for good reason. Writer/Director Roman Coppola (son of Francis) collaborated with Anderson on the scripts for “Darjeeling Limited” and “Moonrise Kingdom”. He also secured the help of two of Anderson’s major playhouse regulars in Schwartzman and Murray. The film also features the low-key humor of an Anderson film and was scored with a quirky, single performer score (by Liam Hayes). There’s no doubt that at times, the movie comes across at times as if it were a poor man’s Wes Anderson movie.

I say poor man’s because this film does not hold it together well. From the intro, where an unseen Doctor asks Swan questions and we see a Monty Python-esque animation of the contents of his brain, we’re set for a stylish off-beat comedic ride. And to an extent, we’re given that early in the film, where Swan’s flashbacks merge with his fantasies in a stream of consciousness fashion until we’re not sure what we’re watching for certain… That surreal styling is pulled away though in the second and third acts, as Charles needs to get real about things and the movie settles into a straight forward narrative.

That winds up pulling away most of the entertainment value as well, however. Not that the surreal visions that he was having were comedic masterpieces, but the story of Swan trying to get his girlfriend back, deal with his sister (Patricia Arquette), and get his business back on track was really rather dull. The comedy just wasn’t there, and without the surrealism, that doesn’t leave you with much. Further, the film really doesn’t feel as if it has anything to say… it’s a bit of a view of romance from the male perspective… if that male were a wealthy, eccentric, alcoholic, man-child (kind of like Sheen himself), but that’s really about it.

It’s the second film for Coppola Jr. and I think he showed some potential. The directing aspect really wasn’t where the flaws were, I think the fault lay more in his aimless script. Big fans of Murray, Schwartzman and Sheen will be able to find a moment or two to enjoy here, certainly, but for anyone else, there’s really nothing here to recommend.


Daniel Fogarty

34 thoughts on “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III

  1. See, I had pretty much resigned to the fact I wouldn’t be seeing this. Looked like a waste of time to me personally. but then you mention a likeness to Wes Anderson and got a bit more of my attention. You knew that would make me reconsider didn’t you? you tricky devil, you! ha

    your wiley ways didn’t work though. I still won’t be checking this one out. nothing really screams “I’ve gotta see it” and your score helps solidify that. Thanks man.

    Nice review!

    • It’s a Wes Anderson wanna be, at best. It’s hard to explain… there’s enough similarities to draw the comparison, but the quality of the material just isnt there. 😦

      If you’re on the fence, I wouldnt waste your time. 😦

    • LOL. There you go. It has enough flavor to it for you to detect the similarities… but not enough substance to actually draw you to checking it out. 😦

      It’d be the same once you actually watched it, too, Nostra. 😦

    • Yeahhhhhh… I was there too. I even called it one of my most anticipated for 2013. 😦 Sadly, for me at least, it fell flat.

      It’s been out on VOD for a month or so, check your cable box and see if you get it if you want to check it out. Went into limited release this week though, thus the review now.

  2. I was really looking forward to seeing this one but I haven’t heard anything positive. Maybe Roman Coppola needs Wes Anderson as a director to complete his vision. Nice review.

    • Maybe he does. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what went wrong. It was decent at times, there were some funny characters and moments, but… it really dragged through the second act and at the end, it just never added up to anything, you know? 😦

  3. Poor man’s Wes Anderson still has my curiosity. While I won’t be running to see this, it’ll be a nice Netflix watch in a few months. Glad you gave it a C- though, as I’ve seen a lot of other (worse) reviews.

    • It had a lot of interesting things going on at times. The cast was good, I like practically everyone who had a part – seriously it seemed like every role was filled by a name. And then it did have a couple of laughs here and there. Those things were enough to elevate it above the complete dredges for me, man.

  4. This review says about exactly what I would expect from this film. I don’t have a huge desire to see this, but you never know. I may catch it a little later down the line.

    • I didnt think it was painfully bad… although a couple of parts dragged. But, its still worth checking out if you have the time and curiousity.

      If for nothing else Rob, it was nice to see Charlie Sheen in a movie again that wasn’t a “Scary Movie” lol

      • My main thing is that I don’t believe Charlie Sheen knows how to play anybody else but a version of his own self. And unfortunately, I saw more two and a half men then I ever should have. 😉 Yeah, I may have to check it out eventually. Thanks for the thoughts!

  5. I think it speaks very, very well for Charlie Sheen. It sounds like he’s the “winner” in this film. It’s a sorry shame that the script chose a puesdo-art house film route, as you suggest. If you’re going to do something like this, why not do it right? That said, I have not seen it and now I’m curious about it.

    • Yeah, Charlie comes out looking good. He’s acting, he’s able ot have a sense of humor about himself… I dont think that it was his fault though that it didnt come off well, you know? He held up his end. 😦

      Check it out if you get the chance, it’s not a horrible, horrible film or anything.

      Love that Gravatar, hope youre ready for next Saturday! LOL 😀

  6. Yeah, I really am interested to see this. I’m a huge Bill Murray fan. I’d watch him just doing nothing (Lost in Translation). I’ll have to check it out now. Thanks for the review.

    • No problem, Shane. Fair warning, Murray has a small role, and though he has a funny moment or two (I’m a big fan, too, he slays me doing anything) for the most part it’s not that memorable of a role.

      But, if you’re a completist, I hear you. LOL 😉

  7. Honestly, I couldn’t be bothered to even bring up Murray and Schwartzman and Arquette in my review. They don’t really do anything here. They’re just…present. But it feels like Coppola’s using them because his Best Buddy Wes Anderson uses them, and not because he has any genuine need for them. (Speaking to Murray and Schwartzman at least.)

    We’re at the same place on this movie, Fogs. For me the huge amount of borrowing Coppola does hurts Charles Swan more than its listlessness; I kept thinking that I’d rather be watching any of the numerous Fellini movies he apes here, and the more I thought about that the longer the movie dragged. I get that Coppola likes Fellini, I get that he’s worked with Anderson on his best film (and, coincidentally, his worst), and I get that they’re both big influences, but man, get your own damn artistic voice.

    Sheen is mesmerizing, but if the last few years of his life had gone differently I can only imagine that we’d have taken his work here much, much differently.

    • “But it feels like Coppola’s using them because his Best Buddy Wes Anderson uses them, and not because he has any genuine need for them. (Speaking to Murray and Schwartzman at least.)” I think its a case that he CAN use them. LOL. I mean… no one would check out a movie with just Charlie Sheen nowadays, right?

      Yeah, you’re hard pressed to watch Charlie now and not think of his antics… kind of like Tom Cruise was at one point, he really damaged himself with his off screen antics. Plus, as you pointed out in your review, this role is almost biographical for Sheen…

  8. Actually, this is Roman’s second film. His first film was a brilliant homage to 60s b-movie cinema called “CQ” back in 2001 that also featured Jason Schwartzman. I wanted to see this but I’ll wait for it on TV.

    • I stand corrected! Thanks, I’ll edit that now.

      TV is probably the appropriate place for this, though if you found his first film brilliant, you may wind up liking this one more than I did…

      Thanks again Ninvoid.

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