Not winning – A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III review

Charles Swan

By Richard Haridy
August 13, 2013

A Glimpse Inside The Mind Of Charles Swan III is an honest-to-goodness awful film. The kind of truly bad movie only genuinely talented people can pull off; where isolated lyrical images and wonderfully imaginative moments all coalesce into a dry, misguided muddle. Roman Coppola (son of Francis Ford, brother of Sofia) has been circling greatness for years, collaborating with Wes Anderson on a number of screenplays and directing some impressive music videos. Charles Swan is Coppola’s second feature as writer/director (after the little seen 2001 oddity, CQ).

Charlie Sheen plays the titular Swan, a famous pop art inspired graphic designer who suffers a nervous breakdown after being dumped by his latest young blonde obsession, Ivana (Katheryn Winnick). The flick alternates between vignettes of Swan’s post-break up life as he tries to deal with being alone and dreamlike imaginings from his inner world. It’s in these fantasy sequences that the flick really plumbs the depths of embarrassment. From the vision of his ex-girlfriends as a military group called the Secret Society of Ball Breakers (because you know, women nag) to him being awarded a Best Bulls**t Award by the Academy of Sexy Women, these supposedly cute sidebars just come across as painfully misogynistic.

Charles Swan

Taking a cue from his friend Wes, Coppola stylises every frame to a depressing extreme, ultimately only serving to distance the viewer from the story. It feels fatally over-designed, to the point where fundamental storytelling elements take a backseat. The inexplicable 1970s setting also appears as a contrived, hipsterish affectation that fetishises the style and objects from that era, adding nothing.

Coppola’s self-indulgent presence is felt behind the camera at every moment as Charles Swan restlessly alternates between continually anachronistic scenes that never amount to anything. It’s rare to witness a film with such a profound disconnect between the director’s intention and the final product. It’s clear Coppola is striving for some kind of meaningful sublime statement but in reality he has created an interminably vacuous picture.

By the time the credits roll, with the actors literally introducing themselves to the audience, Coppola has somewhat skilfully turned what could’ve been an endearing coda into a violently offensive epilogue to one of the most agonising cinematic experiences of 2013.

1/5

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III arrives on Quickflix August 21.

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