Don Jon

Don Jon
Made in: USA
Language: English
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown, Brie Larson, Jeremy Luke
Year: 2013

Synopsis: Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a fast-talking player from a highly dysfunctional family and raised with a warped view of women. He's able to score with just about any girl he meets, and frequents the same swanky night-club with his best pals Bobby (Rob Brown) and border-line loser Danny (Jeremy Luke). They don't hold back on the obnoxious locker-room talk while checking out women and belittling each other.

Oddly enough however, though he's pretty much able to bed any girl he meets at the club, Jon only finds his sexual appetite fulfilled when he's looking at porn online.

Thinking that finding the perfect girl will fix this issue, he soon falls for Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), who appears to be the the answer to all his relationship dreams.

At first, everything is great and enjoys being in love. But when their respective issues with unrealistic expectations (emotional and sexual) cause serious problems in their lives, Jon finds that he needs more than a quick fix and smart talk to get to the root of his sex issues…

The Good: For his first major directorial debut, Joseph Gordon Levitt does a very respectable job. The film is confidently made, moves at a good pace, and doesn't try to be too big.

Although unashamed to dive into its racy subject matter, Don Jon is never resorts to cheap shock value in order to make a point. Although Jon's porn addiction is definitely one of the major themes emphasized in the story (and trailer), it's not necessarily the central focus of the story. 

Instead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt addresses the broader issue of unrealistic expectations and damaging self absorption in relationships. The result is a story with moments of clever irony and psychological depth.

The Bad: Julianne Moore's character creates an interesting turn in the story, but it almost pulls the plot off course. It's clear from the beginning that something in the protagonist will have to change by the third act, and although the movie gets there, the conclusion is almost a little too quick and not entirely satisfying.

Who would like this film: Don Jon is not for the faint of heart. Stay away if you're easily offended by sexual subject matter and foul language. Although the film's not grossly explicit, it does push the envelope.

Well acted, scripted, and directed, the film does have a number of clever moments. Everything wraps up in a plausible way, but the story doesn't quite make a big enough emotional impact to be memorable. However, it's definitely a strong directorial debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and I'd be interested to see what he comes up with next.

(2 and 1/2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang 

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