Don Jon (2013)
written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
You’ve seen the story before: Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy realizes girl is wrong for him. Boy learns about himself with the help of another girl and ends up falling in love with her. Trite, a staple of guy-centric romantic comedies, and something even actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, writing and directing his first feature here, has already done before in (500) Days of Summer (2009). But wait. There’s more to Don Jon than meets the eye.
The film is anchored by Levitt’s fiery charisma as the titular young man who thinks watching and masturbating to porn is much better than sex in real life. He may have a point. But then he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a local beauty princess who might just be the perfect woman. Or is she? How these two follow their desires, opting to see what they want to see in their chosen partner – even if he only wants to get laid and she just wants to find a husband – is certainly nothing new. But Levitt directs it with gusto, keeping the script simple and finding humor in the interaction of characters who aren’t particularly complex. Watch Tony Danza virtually steal the show as Jon’s effusive Italian-American father, who has no qualms about asking his son if Barbara’s breasts are real.
Don Jon does go on a bit too long and I didn’t quite buy the third act where Jon is taught some life lessons by an older woman played by Julian Moore. But all in all, I’m curious to see what Gordon-Levitt may have in store for his next directorial effort.
Carlos I. Cuevas