Joseph Gordon Levitt's directorial debut is a whole lot of fun, and beyond that a brave and nicely observed tale of a young man who manages to move beyond his porn addiction to a place where he can have a meaningful relationship.
The fun comes from his situating the story in a kind of Jersey Shore heightened reality neighbourhood where men where wife beaters, women where massive earrings and chew gum, and you can be out banging chicks on a Saturday night, and confess in Church on a Sunday morning. It was wonderful to see Tony Danza back on screen as the father of the protagonist, the Don Jon of the title, all football and swearing and lech'ing over his son's hot new girlfriend, Barbara. I love how Scarlett Johansen perfectly captures that broad Jersey accent, and the sly manipulations of the gorgeous girlfriend who holds out.
But really this is Joseph Gordon Levitt's show. He's utterly compelling and charismatic and convincing as Don Jon, both in his schmucky porn using phase, and in his exploration of actual emotion phase. And believe me, when the movie takes that right turn into that emotional awakening, it's genuinely moving, and it's quite a feat for the movie to be able to move from the heightened comedy of the first half to the depth of the second half.
Is the movie perfect? No. I didn't like how derivative the character of Don Jon's sister (Brie Larson) was. She was basically a comically silent chick all the way through the movie, always texting people on her phone. Then, in the final reel, she puts down the phone and dispenses some dope wisdom much to everybody's surprise. Everybody, that is, who hasn't seen Kevin Smith's Silent Bob character.
But aside from that, Don Jon is a really brave and funny story that made me laugh and made me think. Can't wait to see what Joseph Gordon Levitt does next!
DON JON has a running time of 90 minutes and has been rated R in the USA.
DON JON played Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, Toronto and London 2013. It was released earlier this year in Russia, Hong Kong, Canada, Estonia, Taiwan, the USA, Israel, Lithuania, Romania, Portugal and Turkey. It opens this weekend in Mexico and next weekend in Greece, Italy, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. It opens on October 31st in Norway, on November 1st in Finland, on November 7th in Denmark, Singapore and Brazil, on November 14th in Argentina, Germnay, Ireland, Poland and the UK, on November 20th in Belgium, on November 28th in Chile and on December 25th in France.