Don Jon, 2013
Written and Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Hey folks, Wilson here. As an unabashed fan of Mr. Joseph Gordon-Levitt ever since his 3rd Rock form the Sun days, Mr. Struggan was very eager to assign me this week’s film review. Don Jon marks Gordon-Levitt’s debut as a screenwriter and director, and sets up a starring role for the affable and multi-talented actor.
The film’s titular character, as you may have guessed, is a Don Juan / Lothario, re-imagined for the 21st century as a suave Jersey clubber named Jon. The beginning of the film introduces a decidedly two-dimensional character, whose admitted foci in life revolve solely around his appearance, his family and friends, his sexual prowess, and most importantly of all, the gratification he receives from consuming pornography. Jon is thrown off his routine, however, upon meeting Barbara (wonderfully played by Scarlett Johansonn) who grabs enough of his attention for him to consider a real committed relationship. What Jon soon realizes, though, with help from his new community college classmate Ester (Julianne Moore) is that he’s merely traded one routine for another, and that relationships in this day and age, though maybe easier to find, are harder to maintain than it seems.
At first, the film and its characters come off as a bit predictable and shallow; people depicted as two dimensional rom-com caricatures who are present only for comedic effect. Under Gordon-Levitt’s writing and direction, though, the film matures and blossoms as it progresses into something with depth, without any cheap sugarcoating. The supporting characters turn out, in the end, to be wonderful foils and deliverers of a healthy balance of humor (Tony Danza and Glenne Headly delight as Jon’s parents). Ultimately, Gordon-Levitt gets by on sheer confidence in his story and where he wants it to take us.
Hollywood’s recent streak of confronting the issue of sex addiction seems mostly built to capitalize on a hot topic, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from seeing this movie. Its statement about love in the age of internet porn isn’t much of an epiphany, but it’s worth stating nonetheless, and turns out to be a clever interpretation of the Don Juan legend.
Mr. Struggan sends his Regards.