Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the actor, stars in this, a film by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the director. Don Jon, the directorial debut from, yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a drama movie that centres around the character of Jon Martello, a New Jersey twenty-something with a passion for his car, his job, his apartment, his church and his women, oh, and his porn.
Jon, played wonderfully by Levitt, is known in his circle of friends as a guy who is able to gain the companionship of ladies that he meets in bars and clubs very easily. He is able to “pull” the most attractive of women and then, without a second thought, moves on to the next. He finds, though, that even the most beautiful of women and the most passionate of sexual escapades are not enough to quench the thirst that he manages to quench when watching pornography. He, in his words, loses himself while watching internet porn and slapping the gland.
The film is very stylishly shot and the mixture of drama and comedy is great and makes for a thoroughly entertaining film. Levitt, as Jon, puts in one of his finest performances and shows that he is talented not only in front of the camera but behind it as well. Scarlett Johansson does a great job as one of Jon’s love interests, Barbara, and her gum-chewing self-assuredness makes for some fun clashes with the confident swagger of Levitt’s Jon. Julianne Moore, who plays Esther, a co-student of Jon, offers an entirely different female presence and is vital to the story. Her performance is my favourite in the film and the layers she brings to it is fantastic. There are some nice side-performances from the likes of Tony Danza, who plays Jon’s father, and Brie Larson who plays Jon’s sister, Monica. It is Levitt, Johansson and Moore though, that make this film a truly unique experience like nothing I have seen before. There are scenes where you feel truly sorry for Jon as he attempts to avoid his addiction to pornographic material, and scenes where you can’t help but feel like the negative things happening to him are because of his own poor decisions.
The romantic comedy and romantic drama genres are filled with movies that seem to tell the same story but with a different name and a different setting, but are predictable and clique throughout, but Don Jon isn’t one of those films, it opens a different door, brings you inside and tells you a story that is fresh and interesting. Sure, there are moments where the characters almost seem like caricatures but the grey areas that the film explores makes me happy. Not everything in life is black and white, bad and good, open and closed, and Don Jon embraces that fact.
I am intrigued to see what Levitt does next as a director, because this truly was a great debut, and at such a young age he has a lot to offer. I will be there to pay my admission and watch whatever he does next.
Don Jon is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.