2013, Movies

Don Jon (2013, Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

This is a romantic dramedy with a relatively unique conceit that goes a different direction than you would expect.

Mild SPOILERS, I guess

The somewhat unique conceit is that Jon is addicted to porn. So whereas protagonists in most of these types of movies have to make choices between two women (as he does here, actually) or choices between an old lifestyle and the woman, Jon has to choose between porn and women. It’s enough of a different spin on the formula to make it feel a little fresh.

However, Gordon-Levitt’s and Johansson’s characters are awful Jerseyites and the thing I struggled with most in the movie is why should I care about these horrible people. I felt as though I was watching¬†Jersey Shore or something. I find romantic comedies and dramas centered around characters I don’t like to be an odd but common phenomenon and it’s one that’s confusing. Fortunately, I knew both actors were indeed acting, so I could admire their commitment to being from Jersey rather than getting too annoyed. (It’s worth noting that Jon’s parents are, in many ways, the highlight in their commitment to being from Jersey.)

But what makes this movie unique and worth watching is the third act, in which something pretty damn unexpected happens. Instead of the usual “man reforms his life for woman of his dreams” plot, we are confronted by something more realistic and far more mature than the average formulaic film like this. It’s that “twist” (for lack of a better word) that makes the movie worth watching (and makes it worth enduring all the terrible Jersey shit in it).

Gordon-Levitt is very clearly a first time director and the opening sequence and the closing one particularly reek of “first time behind the camera” syndrome.¬† But for the most part he doesn’t screw it up (only the opening and closing) and the film proceeds with a amusing rhythm (part of falling in love involves breaking your routine and this is really emphasized with the structure of the movie) and so it’s not bad for a debut.


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