Young and popular actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has finally decided to transition behind the lens and act as a writer/producer/director for Don Jon, which he also stars in. Don Jon is the type of romantic comedy that tackles a topic with both honest hilarity and sincere emotion. Don Jon isn’t just about one man’s addiction to porn, but instead society’s obsession with it and how one man fits into that equation while struggling to find his own path through love, romance and all of the sticky stuff that comes with it.
Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a player. He goes home with a different lady almost every night and his friends absolutely envy him for it. He’s also a loving family member, a loving church goer and someone that takes good care of himself, his ride and his pad. His words, not mine.
He seems to have it all figured out, minus a job that doesn’t involve retail for the rest of his life and a girl that will make him happy for longer than the five minutes of pleasure he gets from viewing porn on his computer screen. Seriously, Jon is far from on-track. He’s a man that plays it cool, calm and collected, but is really lost, broken and searching for something that could possibly change his life.
JGL‘s Don Jon is the actor-turned-writer/director’s first film behind the lens and for a first-timer he clearly displays that he has something to say. Don Jon isn’t quite a hip and clever romance that smartly deals with its subject material all of the time, but JGL deserves points for his fresh perspective as both a writer and director. The film’s dialogue is well-done, offering up an honest approach to one man’s views of the world, while also breaking down that very same man and showing just how emotionally corrupted his mind is.
JGL‘s direction flows well with the writing. The direction is constantly moving and keeping the shots packed with information. There’s a lot of quick cutting and frantic movement as JGL tries his best to establish a fast-paced environment without slowing down much. The film’s ability to tackle such material with honesty, sincerity and obviously humor is great and makes for something that hasn’t quite been done on this level before.
Don Jon features lots of porn and inappropriate language. This is very much an R-rated raunchy comedy, but not in the more traditional sense. Here, most of it is displayed through the foggy lens of one character, while the rest never really exist to that same extreme. Jon is kind of a sex-driven asshole and it shows loud and clear. JGL does a great job creating a character that’s still very likable and generally interesting to watch though.
He also transforms the character on-screen in a manner that feels authentic and never too forced.
Don Jon‘s biggest weaknesses rest in the film’s ending act, which wraps things up in a sweet and touching way, but in a way that feels slightly rushed, with some pretty big corners being cut. I’m not sure if JGL‘s writing simply got a little sloppy towards the end or if the direction was compromised due to keeping a short running time, but somewhere along the lines Don Jon changes gear roughly and the film never fully manages to recover.
Don Jon is film that presents simple intentions, but dives a little deeper and becomes something a little more important. It’s a film not just about one man’s addiction to porn. It’s about one man’s inability to get lost in another individual beyond the level of sex. Falling in love isn’t the hard part, but truly connecting is what seems to be Jon’s problem and JGL‘s talents as an actor/writer/director show, because he’s able to tell such a unique story that’s both funny and sincere.
Despite JGL‘s best intentions, Don Jon still lands as a good film. It might have turned out better if it was in the hands of a more accomplished director, but as JGL‘s first go I’d still call Don Jon a success, especially considering how many hats he wore on the production. There’s really only a few problems with the film’s writing and closing act, which still leaves us with a good chunk of film that’s foul, crude and dangerously hilarious at times, not to mention extremely honest when it comes to the porn.
Don Jon is rough around the edges, but still a memorable debut for the promising performer that’s looking to expand his reach beyond just starring in films. I sure hope he continues to write and direct, because a few more films and this guy just might be someone to keep a very close eye on.
Don Jon – 7.5/10