Film Review: “Don Jon”

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Don Jon, 2013

dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

★★★☆☆

This directorial debut of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt might just be one of the most interesting films of 2013. It speaks the truth and it doesn’t dance around it: men like porn. Men have crazy expectations regarding sex because of porn. It’s a fascinating character study, really. Though I do think the whole thing was resolved much too quickly

The story is very much about the things Jon loves. He loves a lot of things, his car, his pad, his family, his church, his boys, his girls and his porn. All of them make up who he is, and JGL plays this guy with such charisma, this guy who would probably be totally obnoxious if he had been played by Mark Wahlberg or Channing Tatum, that you root for him, you want him to succeed, you want him to be happy. And it is not one of those “happily ever after” endings, but it is hopeful, and it leaves you with a sense that maybe it will all work out eventually for Jon. That Barbara obviously wasn’t the one, and Esther isn’t either, but this is all part of his need to be mature enough to leave some things behind and focus on what’s important.

Besides JGL, the entire cast was brilliant. Tony Danza was so fantastic, and watching Jon’s family at the dinner table really reminded me of home. Apparently all Italian families are loud and larger than life, haha. But the actual focuses of the story are Barbara and Esther, Jon’s love interests. It’s fascinating to watch them because they are both such great characters with very distinctive personalities, and they are portrayed wonderfully by Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore. Scarlett was so fantastic, I absolutely love her ability to become a character utterly and completely. And Moore is just beautiful, fantastic, and she is perfect as that cool older woman who hurts inside from a painful past. But personally, I think Brie Larson as Jon’s sister was my absolute favourite. Even though she only says one line throughout the whole film, it’s the best line in the movie, truly epic, exactly what I expected from her after the first time she appeared on-screen.

In a technical sense, this film is actually really interesting. The opening credits were really great, and all the juxtapositions of the actual time scenes against the porn Jon is thinking about really give a fascinating way into the character’s psyche.

(Though I should warn you: do NOT watch this with your parents — it gets awkward really fast. Like, two minutes in fast.)

It’s overall a thoroughly enjoyable film, creative and funny and quirky and just a little bit weird, and exactly what one would imagine coming out of JGL’s mind.

review by Mariana Duarte

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