Formidable actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has turned his hand to feature film directing and screenwriting in Don Jon.
Gordon-Levitt also stars in the main role of Jon Martello, an Italian-American with a distinct obsession with pornography, only caring about eight things in his life: ‘my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn.’ His questionable lifestyle is put under sufficient threat when he meets Scarlett Johansson’s Barbara Sugarman, a fantasist whose love for her romantic movies rivals his commitment to explicit films. Julianne Moore also stars, playing a woman named Esther, one of Jon’s fellow night school classmates.
The performances by all three main actors are impressive, and there is no denying that the chemistry between Johansson and Gordon-Levitt is sizzling and electrifying. But this sometimes overshadows the role Moore’s character contributes to the whole affair. And this is some of the problem; the ending is a bit clichéd and the film suffers from a few inconsistencies in tone and script. Whilst some may fully appreciate Gordon-Levitt’s efforts, others will find it all a bit too contrived. More so, the character of Mister Don Juan himself can at times be presented as a little too stereotypical. Essentially, his level of dedication to his ‘fantasy’ and his pornography can become grating.
That said, Don Jon does provide a unique take on romantic comedies. Whilst it has substantial humour, wit and flair, it is presented in a distinctive manner that gives the film a refreshing element, which puts it ahead of the pack of so many of its predecessors.
Overall, the film is initially promising, but tends to fade in some places. However, Gordon-Levitt has come up with a suitably cheeky and explicit alternative to the romantic comedy genre, and his role in this piece differs greatly from any of his more recent roles. If you needed a reason to watch the film then it comes in the form of a very committed Scarlett Johansson. Her performance is lively and energetic and gives an added boost to the film, complimenting Gordon-Levitt’s undeniable acting ability.
While the film may not appeal to a universal audience, its relatively thought-provoking plot and the witty charm of its actors make it a relative success for its director and worth a watch.