Review: Don Jon (2013, Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

don-jonRATING: 6/10

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Brie Larson, Jeremy Luke
Screenplay: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Though “Don Jon” isn’t a bad movie at all, there was just something completely underwhelming with the entire project by first time director, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. However, a part of it seems to be quite revolutionary – and that is Scarlet Johansson. With a solid first act, the second act fell completely flat when Johansson left the picture. I feel like the film showed us that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first feature is a good effort, but with a lot of flaws.

The film is set in New Jersey, where we meet bartender Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who suffers from porn addiction. If it isn’t porn he only cares about a few other things in life (including his buddies, his body, his religion, his family, and so on and so fourth), but it all seems to bottle down to porn being the most important thing in his life. He then meets the high maintenance but super foxy Barbra (Johansson) in a night club, where his life is flipped upside down when she begins to control him and decides that porn should be cut out of Jon’s habits.

Gordon-Levitt is definitely not a bad writer. It’s very evident that the lead character, played by himself, is fully realized. But the world and dialogue he writes for Barbra is probably the saving grace of the entire motion picture. With the desirable and rather wacky dialogue given to Johansson, who acts circles around Gordon-Levitt in the film, it seems that she gave one of the best supporting performances of the year. Her sexiness played off her, but Johansson’s Barbra was not afraid to be trashy and dislikable. But it came off as completely different, and Barbra became the best part of the movie.

The direction was on point in the first part of the movie. It was something new and inventive, but when Gordon-Levitt got to the emotional aspect, which is the second half of the movie (with much more drama and less comedy) he was beginning to fail. There the film began to go downhill. In the very typical second half of the motion picture, we are introduced to the ever so boring Julianne Moore character (playing Esther, a girl Jon meets while taking night classes), who does nothing with a nothing role. It’s a shame really, because she’s such a talented actress. But Moore was all wrong for the role, did not challenge herself and was plain out boring. The writing suffered severely as well as the film went on.

As a first feature film, it could have been better, but not a bad effort at all. Gordon-Levitt’s love for cinema showed in how the film was executed, from score to cinematography, from the colours he choose to the camera shots. But maybe he should take a hint from Ben Affleck, who didn’t act in his first feature – and I tell you, “Gone Baby Gone” (2007) was one of the best films of that year. Why? Because it was focused and almost everything was very excellent. Which is not what’s to be said about “Don Jon”.

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