Sunday, January 26, 2014

Quick Cut Review - "Don Jon"

Directed by:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Juliane Moore and Tony Danza
Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes  
Release Date: September 27, 2013

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's writing and directorial debut Don Jon is a perfect example of the versatility the young actor is capable of. Being able to switch from big budget fare such as Inception and The Dark Knight Rises to much smaller off the radar projects such as 500 Days of Summer and 50/50 is not something many actors are able to do (that's probably why he shows up in so many films). If that isn't enough to prove to you his ability to balance his work with such a varied lot of projects, just look at his new television show HitRecord on TV to become fully convinced of his ambidextrous set of talents.

But once again, Don Jon is a different kind of beast because while the setting will seem overly familiar to his indie romance fans, the film is tailored from the ground up to defy any and all expectations aside from expecting the unexpected. The main character Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), of whom his friends refer to him as Don Jon because of his ability to swoon just about any woman he wants, is a guy who like most guys in the world has very simple tastes. He likes to hang out with his boys, he keeps fit, he keeps his apartment nice and neat, he likes having sex with beautiful women and he also likes porn. He really really likes his porn.

That wrench in the machine is what unsuspecting audiences were sold on. This story of a man who has an addiction to porn and when he finds his true love (Scarlett Johansson), she will show him that love is much more fulfilling than anything he will ever find in anything he has on his laptop. The early parts of the film is dedicated to solely that one story arc with Jon and his girlfriend, both characters highly influenced to a hilarious degree by The Jersey Shore, and them trying to build a life together. This is essentially a cut and dry first.

Where Levitt's freshman effort comes into its own is during its final third when Jon has an encounter that completely changes his perspective on everything he thought was true in the world. Everything his loving parents (played by Glenn Headly and Tony Danza) expected from him gets turned on its head and when you realize that Jon's story is anything but the typical Hollywood love story, that is when you realize the true brilliance of how the film was sold as this sort of generic little romance.

This isn't one of those films that will make you alter your life perspective or change your values, but it is a fine little film with plenty of worthwhile observations about how we perceive sex and intimacy in a world where it is just one click away if we want a quick hit of it. There are a handful of scenes that will have couples nudging one another to affirm the legitimacy of one person's argument over another and others going directly to the computer to look up their significant other's internet history. For his first time behind the camera, Don Jon is a surprisingly honest, heartfelt and often times very funny look at modern day relationships and all the baggage that comes with them.


If you are tired of the typical Hollywood romance and want something a little different and a little more honest, then check out Don Jon. It's not the best example of the genre, but it is leaps and bounds ahead of all the other crap that is shoveled out to us each year and is a perfect showcase for the multi-talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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