Reviewed by Marc Glassman
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
Roman Coppola, director and writer
Starring: Charlie Sheen (Charles Swan III), Jason Schwartzman (Kirby Star), Bill Murray (Saul), Katheryn Winnick (Ivana), Patricia Arquette (Izzy), Aubrey Plaza (Marnie)
A film by legendary director Francis Ford Copploa’s son—and Sofia’s brother—Roman is bound to get attention particularly since his script-writing collaboration with Wes Anderson bore fruit with Moonrise Kingdom. And it never hurts to have a cast that includes the bizarre comic skills of Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. Shot in Hollywood, this film has generated quite a bit of interest, particularly in hipster locales in the US. and Canada.
Male menopausal melodrama; black comedy
Charles Swan (Sheen) is a highly successful graphic artist—the head of his own commercial studio. He’s in love with a much younger and beautiful woman, Ivana, but she’s tired of his crazy lifestyle and endless sexual adventures. As soon as they break up, Swan realises how much he loves Ivana. He goes into an inevitable descent, which even his best friend Kirby (Schwartzman) and fiscal manager Saul (Murray) can’t alleviate.
Swan ends up in the hospital after experiencing what he thinks is a heart attack. His sister Izzy (Patricia Arquette) comes bearing helpful advice—but that doesn’t help. Swan’s inner life is played out through fantastic scenes of music, dance and romantic frivolity while the “real Charles III” is finding it difficult to cope with life.
Can his life turn around? Will he stop being outrageous? Will he get back the girl? Hey—that would be telling! Rest assured, nothing too terrible befalls Charles Swan but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t understand more about life by the denouement.
The performances and the writer-director
Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Charlie Sheen are seasoned comic actors. They are also larger-than-life characters. Roman Coppla doesn’t emulate his sister Sofia who transformed Bill Murray’s career by having him genuinely act a part in Lost in Translation. His three leading male actors play their characters broadly—to say the least. The result is amusing but you—and they—are never challenged by their roles or performances.
Roman Coppola enjoys a reputation for goofiness and that’s what happens here. A film that could have actually embraced questions of masculinity and maturity (yikes—that critic is getting serious!) is played for uneasy laughs. Uneasy–because you do feel that Coppola and Sheen could have made more of the character of Charles Swan.
This film is light and funny. If you like Charlie Sheen, you might check it our and support his comeback. Everyone else? My crystal ball suggests an early spring release of the DVD/Blu Ray.