Don Jon Review

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

Making it’s Canadian premiere, Don Jon is a curious entry point for veteran actor Joseph Gordon Levitt into the world of filmmaking. The first time writer director has created a smart film that employs familiar social and genre film conventions to bring the audience to its characters. Before long it becomes its own kind of animal with truly informative development we rarely see in mass market films.

The Don Jon played by Levitt himself is a familiar character; the sort of unbridled machismo of the mediocre youth so popularised in programs like Jersey Shore. And to be sure, you will often hear of the aforementioned tv series when asking “what is Don Jon?”. The cursory connection being a superficial reality that the film abandons around the halfway point to become something much deeper. The Don (Levitt) spends his days pumping iron, caring for his apartment, car, seducing women at clubs and his favorite hobby: porn. This last attraction is a point of conflict; Jon’s obsession with pornography is made clear to us from the outset. While unsure how this plot point will develop and with all signs pointing to the obvious rom com sort of conclusion we are again comforted with the familiar visage of Barbara Sugarman. Barbara, played by Scarlett Johansson, embodies the perfect Jersey girl: with booming curves and jersey drawl, she becomes a part of Jon’s life. The “dime” a ten; the highest rank of attraction for Jon, she soon entrances him and manages to break his systematic lifestyle. She becomes a point of influence that the audience is introduced to as the love within Jon’s life. Not to mention a sort of positive push that involves Jon going to night school. These charming ‘romcomy’ elements lose that sort of opaque nature that we know so well in these films and in a truly deft way; Levitt has transformed this simple story of a boy kicking his porn addiction for the perfect girl into a story about human connection manifesting on both a physical and emotional level.

Don Jon is a story well crafted, shot and directed and this is of course supported by a cast so perfectly drafted for the sum of its parts. Levitt managing to become this macho, Johansson a 180 of a love interest, Tony Danza becoming this frightening depiction of Jon hailing from the baby boom generation, Glenne Headley the rock of this typical family and Julianne Moore as the films true call to action and the fire-starter, combine to bring the film to a grandiose conclusion.

The Don Jon is a fantastic film about human beings, don’t let the reference to pop culture scare you away. Let it trick you into thinking you’re seeing Valley Girl replete with’Ginos’.

Max Romano

Shown at this year’s TIFF13 : Toronto International Film Festival.

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