“A confident debut by Joseph Gordon-Levitt”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Don Jon” is a remarkably assured debut though the film works as well as it does also because of the editing, which was done by Lauren Zuckerman. It’s amazing how good editing makes a decent film better by controlling how scenes flow from one to the next.
But an excellent editor can do little good if the film they’re cutting is drek; luckily this was something that she was probably unconcerned about because “Don Jon” is also well-written (by Gordon-Levitt himself).
What’s most surprising to me is how layered the story is. There’s the most obvious level, of a boy and his love for pornography. If that’s all you get out of it, it would still be enjoyable.
Though Gordon-Levitt has more to say. It’s also a commentary on the unrealistic expectations we place on each other based upon images we see in various media, as opposed to reality. It also touches upon the emptiness of organized religion and the way many males, whether they want to or not, become just like our fathers.
It’s pretty heady stuff, and in less self-assured hands could have been boorish and pedantic. Luckily that not the case here; which is not to imply that “Don Jon” is a perfect film. For instance, why is it that Gordon-Levitt needs Jon to have such an irritating, nasally voice. You get used to it, but till that time it almost hurts to listen to him talk.
Another issue is that, for a character that claims that one of his five great loves are weightlifting–along with his apartment, car, church and family–he has more of a runner’s build (which is why he looked the part of a bicycle messenger in 2012’s “Premium Rush”) which almost makes me feel that when Gordon-Levitt was writing the movie he didn’t necessarily envision himself in the role.
And most vexingly, there were quite a few moments when you could tell that Gordon–Levitt was playing a character, which is unusual for an actor that typically vanishes into his roles.
Overall, those are small criticisms. When all is said and done, “Don Jon” is a remarkable, fascinating film that makes me want to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt direct more often (though I still don’t believe that he will direct a film based on Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ anytime soon, if at all).