Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s career as a director has got off to an original, funny and extremely promising start. Dealing with the tough subject of porn addiction, Gordon-Levitt presents a satirical comedy on the way porn, and the media warps people’s views on reality, and in particular the way romantic relationships can be ruined by unrealistic expectations. Writing, directing and starring, Joseph Gordon-Levitt again cements his claim as one of the most exciting people in cinema at the moment; his directorial début is a confident triumph, showing Gordon-Levitt has real flair behind the camera as well as in front of it. His character, Jon Martello, is a womaniser and porn-addict, who picks up and sleeps with whichever woman he wants, but he never feels like it is as good as porn. Then he meets the ridiculously beautiful and also entirely shallow Barbara Sugarman (played to despicable perfection by Scarlett Johansson), and he falls in love with her. The scrip is incredibly sharp and also very funny, allowing for an entertaining and excellently crafted film, with all the actors, particularly Julianne Moore, excelling in their roles. The obvious man to praise however will forever be Joseph Gordon-Levitt; although he is outshone by Julianne Moore in terms of acting, his script and directing are the real stars of the show, and this is an excellent start from a very promising director. Don Jon is funny, sharp and has a very biting satirical edge which makes it stand out through the silly Hollywood blockbusters. However, Don Jon is adult and sometimes quite leery about woman, something which some people may not be able to look past. Also, some of the characters are underused (Jon’s sister has one line and could have been used more) while other characters are used far too much (Jon’s two friends gradually wear the script pretty thin with some repetitious sexist remarks). It doesn’t hamper the enjoyment though; Don Jon is one of the most enjoyable and interesting films I’ve seen this year.
The use of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s song ‘Good Vibrations’ is inspired and absolutely hilarious. Although some may see the final scenes as a bit too sentimental, the use of this song plus a brilliant final confession in his church brought in the feel-good factor and sent Don Jon out with a bang.
The beginning of the film does take a while to get into its stride, and for Gordon-Levitt to find his feet behind the camera. Also, some characters really outstayed their welcome, and more experience by Gordon-Levitt may have prevented this from happening. However, for a directorial début, this really is an outstanding first effort, and any errors of judgement should be met with a resounding pat on the back in the belief next time out will be an even bigger success.
Combining slick directing with an excellent script, plus three stellar performances from three actors on the top of their game, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first effort out in the director’s chair deserves a rapturous round of applause. Although it won’t win any awards and is anything but one of the best films of the year, it is definitely a confident and immensely entertaining cinematic piece, with an element of satire that may keep you thinking after the credits roll. An adventurous and brave attempt at film-making.