A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is thoroughly cute. A dream-like picture of one man’s struggle to cope with the loss of the love of his life, Charles Swan is the perfect breakup film for those with an affinity for Wes Anderson quirk. (Not surprising, since the film is written and directed by Roman Coppola, Anderson’s frequent collaborator, and includes two of Anderson’s go-to actors, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray.)
The movie, an 86-minute journey into the thoughts and memories of protagonist Charles Swan (played by the ever-controversial Charlie Sheen), takes us through a fanciful world of vignettes that range from tap numbers to a Portuguese singing duet to a hilarious segment about imported Russian calamari. Some scenes are innovatively beautiful. In one recollection of a fight with his girlfriend Ivanna, the camera follows the car of the arguing couple as they move through a carwash, soap, water and washers punctuating their passion. Swan’s fantastical memory of his relationship with Ivanna, accentuated by picturesque mise-en-scene, is coupled with offbeat dialogue that ranges from biting to precious. “You were nice to the toothbrushes, but you were a bitch to me,” Swan bemoans to Ivanna.
The actors’ performances are unsurprisingly spectacular, as one would expect from the spectacular cast (namely, Charlie Sheen and Bill Murray). Swan’s reckless, self-destructive behavior might often reflect the actor who portrays him, but his eccentricities and genuine (albeit messy) love for Ivanna make it hard not to love him. Indeed, Sheen delivers a touching performance in Coppola’s portrayal of the endless possibilities that abound after a painful breakup. The film offers a vital thought: that life goes on, and yes, it is still sweet.