A vibe in no particular search of a plot, "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III" channels '70s mellow and '30s style through a prism of California dreamin'. In this Charlie Sheen vehicle, the fizzy mood and visuals are often, well, winning.
For his second stint in the feature director's chair (after 2001's "CQ"), Roman Coppola has fashioned a noodling indulgence that's alternately freewheeling and dead in the water. The on-screen action never matters or fully engages, but for Sheen fans who are tracking his ongoing image rehabilitation, and those willing to go with the cinematic flow, the self-conscious exercise in low-budget dress-up offers some rewards.
As the title character, Sheen is a playboy in 1970s Los Angeles, a superstar designer of album covers who's in the throes of a midlife breakdown after his girlfriend (Katheryn Winnick) walks out. Lovelorn, world-weary, self-absorbed, Swan is a charmer and a whiner, and Coppola lets echoes of Sheen's public persona fill in the gaps in the writer-director's flimsily conceived antihero.
An animated-collage dissection of Swan's brain reveals, no surprise, an obsession with women. But the film is pretty tame on the matter of sex. Fantasy sequences give vent to his sense of being under siege by females who won't cut him any slack. These skits (in a film of skits) ride the line between period-specific POV and old-school offensiveness — a tribe of lovelies in skimpy American Indian costumes goes on the warpath, for example — and in any case aren't particularly funny.