d o n j o n
15th November 2013
Jo & Scarlet
27th October 2013
Where the hell did Joseph Gordon-Levitt come from?? One minute he’s that kid off Third Rock from the Sun, seen occasionally in movie bit parts (getting an ice-skate to the face in Halloween H20), the next he’s making movies like Looper and Inception. Of course it helps that he’s been in the business for twenty five years. If that doesn’t make you feel old, nothing will.
Don Jon is JGL’s feature length directorial debut, although he’s been experimenting with film making for a while through his hitRECordjoe production company. And what a debut it is. Telling the hysterically honest story of a young man who watches probably more porn than maybe he should. Well, if he wants to hold down a relationship of any length that is.
JGL plays the title role of Jon (jnr.) a young man who has very few worries in life. He spends his time split between the gym, and chasing women. He also obsessively cleans his ‘pad’, continually confesses to exactly the same sins every week at church, rides around in his pimped out car and spends occasional dinners with his hilarious family (silent sister, hysterical mother and football obsessed wife-beater wearing father). Things change pace one evening when attempting to pull ‘a dime’ (which I assume is a reference to ten out of ten) with his boys in a club. The dime in question is Barbara (Scarlet Johansson). Before he knows it, Jon is in love and spending more time watching terrible rom-coms and attending night school in order to better himself. Things of course do not run smoothly and when he is caught attending his porn addiction, he makes a promise he can’t keep and things start to spiral out of control. This leads to a number of variously hilarious issues and Jon receiving more than his normal ten hail Marys at church.
The movie is loud, brash, confident, funny and skirts a number of stereotypes. Scarlett Johansson is just superb as the initially alluring Barbara. Her brilliant New Joisery accent seems to get ever more trashy the more that Jon gets to know her. The initial attraction gradually gives way to horror as Jon realises that Barbara is merely trying to control him. Johansson stops just short of over the top stereotype and your realisation of her other side is as slow as Jon’s. JGL is pumped up to the maximum as Jon. His absolutely confident stride is a sight to behold as he grapples with his porn and his feelings for Barbara. Tony Danza plays up his New Jersey Italian sub-mobster for all it’s worth, again skating very close to a cutout stereotype but staying just the right side, mostly because he and JGL are so well matched at the dinner table. Jon is almost a copy and paste of his father, sitting opposite him in his white vest while they both shovel pasta into their mouths.
Julianne Moore provides about the only thing in the movie that registers as calm advice, as a fellow classmate at Jon’s evening class. Having accidentally caught her crying, she then catches him indulging his habit on his mobile phone in class. The two strike up an unlikely relationship which provides a balance for Jon’s world. Moore is excellent, pulling off vulnerable, wise and sexy all in one and steering Jon into more grown-up waters.
Don Jon is an amazingly confident piece of movie making. Levitt has brilliantly captured the energy of his character and our journey with him is a wonderful experience. He has managed to tackle a generally taboo subject with enthusiasm and honesty. Effectively an x-rated rom-com, the movie doesn’t look away from its porn subject matter. Jon explains repeatedly why he prefers the solo act rather than fully engaging intimately with another person, something that is increasingly relevant now that porn is accessible anywhere, anytime but Levitt leaves us to judge or not judge his character for this.
Laced with on the nose adult humour, including a hilarious skit from Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway in the ‘film’ Someone Special, the movie will have you grinning from ear to ear even as you wince away from Jon’s apparently self destructive habit. Johansson is a revelation and Moore provides the deepest character as the bereaved Esther. A movie that should make you think as well as laugh, the world would be a lot better if more movies had time for extended arguments about Swiffers.
Check out the trailer here.