A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III | Movie review
Roman Coppola’s second feature isn’t a tie-in with Charlie Sheen’s antics.
Those amused by the prospect of seeing Charlie Sheen at the center of an All That Jazz–like revue may find a glimpse is more than enough. The second feature from filmmaking scion and Wes Anderson collaborator Roman Coppola, Charles Swan III should not be mistaken for a tie-in with the star’s public antics, à la Joaquin Phoenix’s work in I’m Still Here. Instead, it’s a dip into the familiar waters of tortured-artist self-reflection, centered on a figure whose alleged charisma and genius ostensibly excuse his personal flaws. Sheen’s title character is a womanizing graphic designer whose hyperactive imagination goes reeling after his breakup with would-be soul mate Ivana (Katheryn Winnick). The movie sets its tone—and signals its trajectory—at the outset, when Swan accidentally drives his vintage Cadillac backward down a cliff.
As in 2001’s CQ, Coppola displays a zest for period art direction (’70s here, ’60s there) matched only by his apparent disinterest in narrative drive. Set pieces exist simply because they can: Swan and his comedian friend (Jason Schwartzman, looking very Tony Roberts with curly hair and a beard) wander into a Western and are attacked by scantily clad female Indians; later, in a visualization of one of Schwartzman’s stand-up bits, the men are hounded by a secret league of girlfriends who’ve formed a military-style spy agency to monitor infidelities. Like Roy Scheider’s Fosse clone in Jazz, Swan wonders if he’s dying, though his fears turn out to be as exaggerated as the mise en scène. Everyone from Bill Murray (looking bored as Swan’s manager) to “guest stars” Aubrey Plaza and Mary Elizabeth Winstead drops by to boost his ego. (Available on select VOD platforms now and widely beginning Fri 8; opens at AMC 600 N Michigan Feb 15.)