Glimpse inside Sheen’s mind too familiar in ‘Charles Swan III’

Courtesy of American Zoetrope Productions

A few years after his highly publicized and grotesque meltdown, actor Charlie Sheen returns to cinema with Roman Coppola’s newest feature, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III.” While most would assume this role might be a way for Sheen to make a comeback into more professional roles, his latest effort only highlights his bizarre life, on camera and off.

The film follows Hollywood graphic designer Charles ‘Charlie’ Swan III (Sheen) and his stylized, though familiar, lifestyle. Charlie finds minimal success in his choice of profession while also failing to maintain the more beneficial aspects of his life: the relationships he shares with his best friend Kirby (Jason Schwartzman), sister Izzy (Patricia Arquette) and accountant Saul (Bill Murray).

While these connections appear to nurture his sanity, the film’s conflict truly emerges with the disastrous end to Swan’s relationship with Ivana (Katheryn Winnick), one of the many girlfriends who occupy Charlie’s thoughts. Ivana’s uniqueness stems from her irresistibility, which ultimately fuels Charlie’s determination to preserve their relationship throughout the course of the film.

Without much thought, one can discern the many parallels between Sheen’s character and his actual life. Though his sense of humor is at times charming, the particulars of Charlie Swan are so like Sheen’s actual disposition that the viewer cannot take his cinematic presence seriously. Some of the roles Sheen has taken on in the past have demonstrated his potential as an actor, but Coppola’s character mirrors the actor’s faults to excess, essentially portraying Charlie Swan as a washed up, hyper-dramatized version of Charlie Sheen.

Though Sheen’s performance is not exactly a stretch, the other characters bring a needed sense of structure to the story. Without their interactions with Charlie, the audience would lose the continuity and sense of reality necessary for a storyline to exist. Kirby, Izzy and Saul create the only real dialogue throughout the film, as Charlie’s input is mostly displayed through ambiguous fantasies and flashbacks.

Ivana also acts as a tangible character in the main storyline, but she truly shines in the fantasy sequences, in which the audience gets a better idea of her allure and significance. These supporting roles, though minuscule, are significantly more impressive than the main character.

The film primarily falls short because of Coppola’s attachment to the title character. Even with the assistance of splendid supporting characters, stunning cinematography showcasing the world of Hollywood and a fitting soundtrack, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” displays exactly what the title suggests — though the audience can just as easily catch a glimpse by tuning into an episode of TMZ.

Nora Blake is a contributing writer. Email her at film@nyunews.com.

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