Although it is tonally uneven, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut Don Jon is an entertaining film.
New Jersey guy Jon (known as ‘Don Jon’ to his friends) cares about his body, pad, family, friends, and girls. He also has a habit of watching online porn. When he falls for a beautiful girl, it is unclear how he will balance the two…
For much of Don Jon, the tone is comedic. The central character is a young, rather stereotypical heterosexual man, and the audience is invited to laugh both with and at him. The final third of the film plays on what has come before to a certain extent, and is far more introspective than what has come before.
Don Jon is something of a coming of age story wrapped up in a comedy about a porn addict. There may be an issue with the way in which the film is being sold; those expecting an out and out comedy may feel dissatisfied with Don Jon.
The message that writer-director and star Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers is quite clear. There is no more nuance than what is presented. In some ways, Gordon-Levitt is skewing a proportion of the audience who the film will appeal to. The concurrent themes of family and religion are played out in an overt manner; some subtlety here would have been welcome.
Gordon-Levitt’s direction is good; there are some distinctive touches in Don Jon. The cinema scene is particularly amusing. The soundtrack feels fitting. Gordon-Levitt and Julianne Moore deliver decent performances. Scarlett Johansson amuses.
Don Jon shows some promise for Joseph Gordon-Levitt; the next project he takes on will perhaps say more about his direction as a filmmaker.
Don Jon is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.