“A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” Review: This is What “Winning” Looks Like?

By Wesley Emblidge

Charlie Sheen in “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III”

When you write a film that has an intentionally unlikeable lead character, there are generally two things you should do. The first is cast someone who can make them somewhat interesting, and the second is have the character go on a journey to at least somewhat redeem themselves. There are successful films that don’t do this, of course, recently “Young Adult” is a good example of that. However, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” is a pretty terrible failure at not just working with an unlikeable character, but in most other aspects of filmmaking as well. It’s a poorly written, ugly-looking waste of its cast, which is saying something when your lead is a man as useless as Charlie Sheen.

Writer/director Roman Coppola (the son of Francis Ford) should have had this in the bag. Not only has he done work on both his father and sister Sophia’s films, but he has written with Wes Anderson, most recently on “Moonrise Kingdom” (which he just received an Oscar nomination for). His directorial debut “CQ” was fairly well received critically, and he lined up an impressive cast including Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray for his second directorial outing.

Unfortunately it’s a complete mess, a barely 80-minute film with a massively undeveloped plot and characters. It’s murky and nonsensical, from how it’s plotted to the way it looks. For at least half of this film I had no idea what was happening just because of the lighting. Sheen plays an unlikeable protagonist fairly well; seeing as I couldn’t stand him. However at the point where the film gives a half-assed attempt to redeem his character, Sheen doesn’t change his “performance” one bit.

Worst of all, it feels like Coppola attempting to mimic what he’s done with Anderson in the past. He throws a lot of the quirky sensibilities that Anderson’s films are known for, but without reason or more importantly, without the heart that make Anderson’s film so great. Charles Swan has a car with bacon and eggs painted on the side and a couch that looks like a hotdog, which are quirks just added for the sake of being quirky. When Anderson does it there’s a reason, in Coppola’s film it feels like he’s just throwing in every idea he comes up with.

Most people wouldn’t be seeing “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” anyway, but I thought it would be something I’d end up recommending. Sadly, you should stay far, far away from the film, unless you are a huge Charlie Sheen fan for some bizarre reason. There’s really not much to like here at all, aside from one of the most fun end credit sequences I’ve seen in a while. Or maybe I was just happy it was over.

Sheen is famous for saying things like “You can’t process me with a normal brain,” and I guess this film just proves him right.


1.5/5 Stars


“A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” is available now on VOD and will be in theaters on February 1.