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Movie review: 'A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III'

Posted 7:21am on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013

R (adult themes); 84 min.

A movie calling itself A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is saying implicitly that it depicts a mind worth glimpsing.

That was probably writer-director Roman Coppola's main responsibility in Charles Swan, to give the audience a character worth watching. Get that wrong, and the audience finds out just how long 84 minutes can be. The answer: really long.

In the movie's first scene, Charles' much younger girlfriend (Katheryn Winnick) leaves him after finding photos of herself in a drawer commingled with nude pictures of his previous women. Charles (Charlie Sheen) is angry at her for leaving, but he is still in love with her. Twenty minutes later, after flashbacks and fantasy depictions of Charles' daydreams, he observes to a close friend that he is enraged at his girlfriend, but that he is still in love with her. And then a half-hour later, after more sound and fury signifying nothing, he has the original insight that he's enraged at his girlfriend, but he's still in love with her.

See the problem? For all the title's assertion that this is a mind worth visiting, Charles has a way of repeating himself, and for all the commotion Coppola is able to introduce, and side characters such as Bill Murray as the business manager (he's funny no matter what he does) and Patricia Arquette as Charles' sister, the story has no forward motion and no rooting interest: Charles is a creep.

The casting of Sheen as a serial ladies' man, two years after he talked about his "tiger's blood" and life with his two "goddesses," comes across as a pitch to play off the similarities between real life and fiction. Actually, Sheen's not bad here. He can act. But he can't make Swan interesting, and Swan can't make Sheen interesting. The only real question is who comes out worse in the exchange.

Exclusive: Angelika Dallas; Angelika Plano

-- Mick LaSalle,

San Francisco Chronicle

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