Sunday, May 10, 2015
A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWANN III (2012)
Written & Directed By: Roman Coopola
Cinematography By: Nick Beal
Editor: Robert Schafer
Cast: Charlie Sheen, Patricia Arquette, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Angela Lindvall, Katheryn Winnick, Dermot Mulroney, Colleen Camp
A graphic designer's enviable life slides into despair when his girlfriend breaks up with him. -After the bad reviews of this film that I was really looking forward to on many fronts. As finally Roman Coopola making a film a follow up really to his debut film CQ. which I thought was exceptional. He has kept busy over the years but this was his first full on feature since. He keeps the films time period specific just as his previous film and like that one this one seems to be even more style over substance
Another reason I was looking forward to this film was that it was the return of Charlie Sheen to the big screen especially in a more dramatic role. The problem it seemed was that over the years Sheen just seemed to be a slave to the paychecks and appearing in a bunch of forgettable films. So that you never knew what you were going to get. Plus on screen though he had times of greatness his performances seemed to be average middle aged white guy roles that anyone could play there seemed to be no distinctions or personality to them. Though I always felt he was a great screen presence and I guess growing up watching him in great films and bad that I was a fan. So seeing him here was going to be a great joy.
Then I finally saw the film and while it looks beautiful it seems meandering and for a film that is under 90 minutes it feels self indulgent. That might be personal to the director but doesn’t translate as much to the audience. Though maybe heartbreak is universal.
It all breaks down to Sheen’s character being a lothario/ladies man who finally falls in love and while at first seems to be able to get over it. As time goes on he realizes that he truly loves her and can’t get over her. Just as this happens it seems that everything in his life fails. so this causes him to have several self reflections about his life and we do get a glimpse inside of his mind and imagination as he also works as a photographer he thinks in images and comes up with themes that his life seems to play into or spill out over into. The irony of the situation is that it seem like the woman of his heart and affections treats him like he has treated his many cast off lovers. So it is kind of like he is getting his comeuppance. Which could have had plenty of comedic possibilities. Though the film tries to make it humorous it goes for a more melancholy route that makes it seem more dramatic than it needs to be or truly is. That makes the film feel misguided and ugly.
Along the way we have Bill Murray as his accountant and even though Bill Murray is more know for his comedic roles here he plays the human face more in his scenes as he seems to be the drama and the heart of the film as a sad sack. He brings whatever energy the film has been building and faking into the harsh light of day and exposing it’s lightweight shallowness for all it is.
As the film slowly reveals that even though it is a comedy at heart it is never really funny.
While the film is filled with familiar faces, That seems more like dressing as they appear, but don’t have much to do or even play with as far as roles.
For a film that is supposed to be introspective it feels oddly empty. Never really showing or explaining why we should care for most of these characters or the situation he finds himself in.
The film never truly finds a spark to begin with, as the film feels like a shell that tries to show a depth that doesn’t truly exist at least as the film plays. Then it seems to be a film that is influenced more by other works and itself feels like a movie that is of the time period it is set-in and would be revelatory… if made back then. Being that it was made more recently it feels like a story we have seen that is dressed up in surreal scenes and well shot colorful camera angles. The film is more visually interesting and filled with ideas that never quite provide the desired effect it seeks. While it is certainly creative (Even in it's credits) it never has a reason for any of it or it's actions. It just feels Empty
I might be harsher on this film as I had so much hope for it and feels more like a personal letdown. Though no one owes me anything certainly not the filmmakers.
I believe he has another good film in him, even a great one. I just believe he needs to be more personal and maybe find a screenwriter to incorporate his ideas and know how to best incorporate a story.