Don Jon

Date: September 2013

Release Year: 2013, Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, IMDB Link

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I have to start by saying that I think very highly of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL). He first caught my eye in Inception playing the role of trusty sidekick and ever since his acting never failed to impress me. In particular, the movie 50/50 was one one of the best comedy/dramas of 2011 in my opinion, largely due to his performance. Reading his interviews always left me with the impression that he is much more interested in writing and cinematography compared to your average actor. Well he hasn’t proven me wrong, he pulls a Clint Eastwood in Don Jon by handling writing, directing as well as playing the lead character. The resulting product is a surprisingly fun to watch movie about sexual relationships, with a colorful touch of comedy. 

The movie tells the story of Jon, a modern day Don Juan DeMarco (hence the title of the movie) living in New Jersey. He owns a nice apartment, works out regularly and constantly has one night stands with chicks (which are always an 8, 9 or 10 in the universal hotness scale) whom he meets at clubs. Hence his life is as good as it gets for a man in his 20’s with no college education. There is one minor problem tough; his porn addiction! Although he enjoys real sex, masturbating to porn gives him a satisfaction that no woman can provide. Soon he realizes that what his sexual life lacks is the touch of real love, and his world turns upside down when he meets and falls in love with Barbara (played by the ever beautiful Scarlett Johansson, I see what you did there JGL!). Does being in a loving relationship will finally bring a resolution to his sexual problems? I will let you watch the movie to find that out.

The main theme of the movie is the connection between love, sex and the happiness found by getting connected to someone. These themes are not unfamiliar to the audience; we have seen them many times before, for instance in Woody Allen’s movies and recently in Steve McQueen’s Shame. However, Don Jon treats the subject in a much lighter manner, and the result is a very enjoyable movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you found the aforementioned movies too dark or too complex, you might want to give Don Jon a try.

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There are a lot of things I liked in this movie, one of them being it’s honest representation of men’s psyche. Watching porn, having disappointing sex, giving ratings to girls in clubs and dealing with unemphatic girlfriends are integral parts of a grown up man’s social life. I think the plot connects really well with the male audience. I am sure every man watching this movie will relate the specific scenes to some point in his life. That is a rare feat in a comedy movie, and I was especially pleased to see that pulled of by a first time director.

Let’s discuss the acting a little bit, which is very, very good! If several actors outshine in a movie, it is customary to praise those actors, but if ALL of the actors give an outstanding performance I think the credit is due to the director. Scarlett Johansson definitely gives one of the most successful and memorable performances of her career, everything from her body language to her “Jersey Accent” is perfect. However, Tony Danza steals the show playing the sexist and foul-mouthed father of Jon. Every scene where he appears was followed by a burst of laughter at the theater. His performance is the perfect example of how a supporting actor can contribute to the overall quality of the movie. Like I said before, praises go to JGL for doing an outstanding job at directing the actors.

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Alright, after all these praises, I have to point out that the ending of the movie was a bit of a let down. After all that build-up, the ending just felt rushed and incomplete. Given that the movie is only about 90 minutes long, I think the story could be wrapped up much better with a few additional scenes and dialogue.

Don Jon is definitely a funny and honest movie about sex and love, but more importantly it is the start of a very promising directing career. I think especially with his talents in directing the actors, JGL is likely to become one of the prominent directors of this decade.

Definitive Scenes: Weekly confession sessions with the priest,  Jon’s monologues about his addiction, Jon and Barbara’s first date, the dinner with Jon’s family where they meet Barbara, Jon and Ester’s sex scene near the end.

Score: 8/10

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