Jennie’s Review: Don Jon

Letter Grade:

The Good:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Writer, Director, and Star
It’s brutally honest and unapologetic
Julianne Moore

The Bad:

The graphic and vulgar subject matter will be too much for some people

Cast & Crew:

Written by, Directed by, and Starring - Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Also Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza

Rated R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use

DON JONIn a modern interpretation of the 17th century legendary character (and womanizer) Don Juan, Don Jon opens with a fast cut montage of a lot of scantily clad women in many different forms from pop culture, commercials, music videos, professional cheerleaders, actresses on the red carpet, and of course, porn.  We meet the title character Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as he sits at his computer, with his voiceover rationalizing his preference to porn over real women.  He is not rationalizing it to himself, but to us the viewers.  He knows he’s right.  He has no trouble hooking up with women (as is graphically displayed) but it’s just not the same and he is incapable of truly loosing himself with anyone but his online ladies.  He then meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) and everything changes, but not in the ways you would expect.

If you are uncomfortable with the thought of sitting through a movie that shows clips from and/or mentions porn every few minutes for the majority of its 90 minute run time, you should probably sit this one out.  Otherwise, it is a brutally honest insightful movie about finding yourself, what it truly means to be in a relationship (romantic or otherwise), acknowledging and overcoming addiction, and what actually brings about real change in a person.  These are themes and issues everyone can relate to. It also takes a well deserved harsh look at our culture, the way we treat others (and allow ourselves to be treated), and even the church.

DON JONI’m not from Jersey, or any other place with an overly discernible accent, but it seems people are always (including with this film) attacking the way the accents are portrayed in movies.  Personally, I think there’s a big difference between a theatrical or on purpose over the top accent, and a bad accent. Not to mention, many of these movies that are supposedly so unrealistic are starring people who are originally from the areas in question.  Just because you don’t talk that way, doesn’t mean others do not.  Plus, if it upsets you, perhaps you should take it up with all these “reality” stars from over the past few years that perpetuate these over the top speech patterns on TV every day.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it isn’t an accident that half of the characters in this movie sound like they are regulars on The Jersey Shore anyhow. OK, enough ranting.

This is Joseph Gordon-Levitt like you’ve never seen him before.  Literally.  His weight training schedule for this role must have insane.  That combined with the personality of his character, which is so far removed from mainstream hits such as (500) Days of Summer, Inception, and 50/50, he is barely recognizable.  It was shocking to me how believable he was as this overly sexed, overly cocky, muscle shirt wearing sleazebag.DON JON

For Gordon-Levitt’s first time writing/directing a feature length film, I believe it was a success.  The story is less predictable than expected but manages to stay completely believable.   Under his direction and the cinematography of Thomas Kloss, this film has some beautiful shots, clever angles, and very thoughtful choices for points of focus.  Like a compelling graphic novel, it seems as though every single shot was meticulously thought out.  If they drew up detailed story boards for this film, I would love to see them.

The supporting cast is all wonderful as well.  Rob Brown is great as Jon’s best friend and wing man.  There is a very strong macho man vibe with the men in this movie, but Brown’s character is able to convey a realistic balance between the “clubbing & looking for a hook up” guy and the “how people act in the real world” guy.

To me (other than Gordon-Levitt) Julianne Moore is the stand out performance.  I cannot explain too much of why as it will give away a pretty big plot point, however with all the ageism that seems to be rampant among actresses over 40, DON JONthis is anything but.  The role is powerful, realistic, sexy, and not even remotely defined by her age.

If you are open (and mature enough) to looking beyond the graphic nature and vulgarity, this is a wonderful film.  It’s an exciting, edgy, and really well made film for Gordon-Levitt’s debut from the other side of the lens.   But, please keep in mind, this movie isn’t for everyone.

*Photos courtesy of Relativity Media


Jennie Stoddart (24 Posts)

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