Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza
Don Jon is a film brimming with confidence. The eponymous Jon spends his days hitting the gym and many of his nights out at his local club, picking up ladies to take back to his pristine pad. His problem though, is that once the deed is done, Jon is left disappointingly unfulfilled; his only avenue for sexual fulfilment being the sessions he spends on his laptop watching porn, once his company has fallen asleep. Like his character, Joseph Gordon-Levitt shows great confidence as a first time feature filmmaker, injecting Don Jon with both humour and honesty that may well make it the best dramedy you see on DVD and Blu-ray this year.
Jon’s love for online erotica is called in to question when he begins dating the stunningly curvaceous Barbara. Having lived off of a diet of clichéd Rom-Coms, Barbara is a firm believer in idealized true love. The discovery that her new dream guy prefers getting his jollies from the web then from her doesn’t sit well. Jon’s defence, that Barbara is equally as obsessed with her Rom-Coms, is dismissed; “movies and porno are different Jon, they give awards for movies,” she screams before he tersely replies, “they give awards for porn too”.
Gordon-Levitt’s script is a finely paced tale, filled with humorous dialogue and well-drawn characters. We meet Jon at his computer, butt-naked save for the cross hanging round his neck, narrating his masturbatory routine with unconcerned bluntness; “that sound gets me fucking hard” he says, referring to the buzz and whirr of his MacBook powering up. Jon doesn’t like porn, he’s addicted to it and Gordon-Levitt must be admired for his candidness in addressing such a topic. Jon’s love for porn stems from being part of a generation that is unable to live out the fantasies they have unlimited access to online. Yet, while the stereotype of the porn obsessed male is one lacking the ability to approach actual members of the opposite sex, Jon has no problem in that department. Gordon-Levitt handles the subject with ease, refusing to show the watching of porn in a negative light, but observing how too much exposure can make it near impossible to connect with someone on a human level.
Starring in the lead role as well, Gordon-Levitt is electric as Jon. His snappy narration makes Jon a character we can easily connect with, his nice guy persona being consistently infectious. Scarlett Johansson’s beautiful Barbara may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but she’s equally as fascinating to be around, particularly when exploring her obsession with sleazy Rom-Coms. Johansson lights up the screen whenever she’s on it, but unfortunately once her part is played out, she’s almost unfairly pushed to one side. Meanwhile, Julianne Moore’s Esther, who is there to offer Jon guidance in his hour of need, is never explored enough, making the ending in particular feel a little too simple; as if Gordon-Levitt didn’t quite know how to end.
You’ve got to admire the self-assurance of this first time writer/director though. Don Jon is a film that isn’t afraid to shy away from being frank when tackling a subject many consider taboo and while it struggles under its own weight towards the end, it remains both funny and heartfelt enough that you’re unlikely to notice.
Don Jon arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on the 24th March and is available for pre-order now. The Blu-ray has a load of special features including Hit RECord! material (Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s online collaborative production company) and featurettes about the making of and the origins of the film.