Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Don Jon’ Review: Gordon-Levitt’s Directorial Debut is Fantastic

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the best actors working today. He’s proven his versatility with films like Brick, Inception, (500) Days of Summer and Looper. By starring in unconventional romantic comedies to original thought-provoking thrillers, you can’t stereotype this actor into one genre. Now the actor has added directing and writing to his list of accomplished filmography and I must say I hope Don Jon is the first of several directing gigs for the 32-year-old star.

Don Jon, originally titled Don Jon’s Addiction, premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and was picked up a short while later by Relativity Media.

Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was born in raised in New Jersey and cares about 5 things in life: his family, apartment, body, faith and his porn. Actually he’s seriously addicted to porn, which he watches on his laptop everyday. His friends nicknamed him Don Jon since he manages to pick up a different woman every time they go out on the weekends.

When Jon meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a beautiful young lady who has more traditional values when it comes to relationships, Jon finds difficulty in committing to his new relationship with her and the relationship with his porn sites he’s developed over the years.

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Gordon-Levitt is incredible as Jon, a guy that could easily fit right in with the cast of Jersey Shore. He finds a way to make such a serious subject both amusing and depressing throughout the whole movie. In one particular and rather brilliant montage, Jon goes to confession at his Catholic church, while quick edits of porn flicks intertwine his dialogue.

Don Jon clearly belongs to Gordon-Levitt, but the film’s supporting characters are equally matched in talent. Johansson is wonderful as the fiery Jersey girl who wants a relationship straight out of a Hollywood rom-com. Julianne Moore plays Jon’s classmate in night school and makes an interesting addition to the film even with the limited time she has on screen. Tony Danza and Glenne Headly play Jon’s parents and Brie Larson, whose talent seems wasted at first, is given a vital moment near the end of the film as Jon’s sister.

Gordon-Levitt’s screenplay expertly shows just how crippling an addiction is, but balances the heavier side of the story with a smart blend of comedic moments. He creates a handful of interesting characters, both likable and annoying and what’s more is that Jon is a little of both. Jon is arrogant, egotistical and a womanizer, but even with all of those qualities, Gordon-Levitt adds a vulnerability to the character that people can relate to.

Don Jon is this year’s unconventional romantic comedy about a man with an addiction and his struggle to overcome it and find true happiness.

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