Roman Coppola Becomes the Shutterstock Fellini
(this is a longer version of a review I did for The Portland Mercury)
I first tried to watch A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III when it was on VOD. I watched about 20 minutes of it and promptly started doing chores around the house. Then I got the assignment to review it, and, out of some misplaced feeling of obligation to watch the entirety of a movie I’m assigned to review no matter how bad, I watched it again. I would not recommend doing this. No one in the film spontaneously gains the power to explode people with their minds, shown in slow motion and multiple angles, a lá The Fury. Morgan Freeman does not show up in the last five minutes to deliver some velvety monolog of pure, blinding insight. In fact, the second half of the movie is a lot like the first: more insufferable, soulless, masturbatory bullshit. On the plus side, it’s a great movie to throw on when you need to finish some housework.
Charles Swan is played by Charlie Sheen, and Charles Swan likes to daydream. He daydreams so much that he often disappears into a daydream only to disappear into a sub-daydream. Unfortunately, these daydreams are boring and so is Charles. I suspect the fact that Charles Swan is played by Roman Coppola’s childhood friend Charlie Sheen is intended to be a lot more symbolic and evocative than it actually is. I further assume Charles Swan is supposed to be some idealized idea of maleness, played by Sheen as some meta comment on our collective consciousness, because everything about him is ultra kitschy and campy and phony, entirely inhabiting some production designer’s non-period-specific art deco sepia dream, where all the women are models and the furniture designed by Roy Lichtenstein. As we learn from Charles’ psychoanalyst in the opening scene, Charles is selfish, he doesn’t listen, and he’s always thinking about sex. That’s… pretty much it. He is infomercial man. A broad, hokey caricature of a dude, a dream having dreams. Oh, and he’s all torn up about his break up with Ivana, a model who owns lots of shoes. Because women be shoppin,’ obviously. This is a movie that thinks it’s Portnoy’s Complaint when it’s barely According to Jim. And let me tell you, there isn’t much interesting about delving into the psyche of a broad, meaningless caricature. Ooh, tell us about your rich internal life, Joe Camel! Dr. Pepper 10 commercials are better satire than this.