With Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt proves once again that the talented boy wonder can simply do no wrong in his technically and stylishly outstanding directorial debut. Casting himself against type, Gordon-Levitt clearly revels in the opportunity to play the Jersey Shore-styled douchebag who would much prefer to seek sexual gratification through hardcore cyber means than with real life flesh and blood.
The strangely affable Jon divides his shallow self-obsessed life between serving drinks, pumping iron, going to confession and scoring with as many club-fillies as possible. Deeming his life as near-perfect, Jon doesn’t view his raging internet fantasy world as problematic until he encounters the absolutely stunning Barbara (Scarlett Johansson – suspiciously casted by JGL as JGL’s love interest). As their romance blossoms and his secret revealed, Jon quickly learns that his desensitisation to real intimacy has a far greater cost than his superficial lifestyle would have let him imagine.
As a first time writer/director, Gordon-Levitt makes the huge shift to behind the lens appear effortless, providing endless well-earned laughs and filmmaking tricks that you’d assume came from a seasoned veteran. The smart and witty story plays out naturally and with remarkable poise and control. Appearing at first, as a romantic comedy with a twist, Don Jon shifts gears noticeably in it’s third act to make a far greater statement about the commercialisation of sex and its destructive long term effects.
Consistently hilarious and oozing enough charm and poignancy to make the film’s earlier sex-montages tolerable, Don Jon is a lovingly crafted message to viewers about the traps and mistruths about the digital age we live in. It warns us to avoid the eventual pitfalls of porn and sex addiction and earnestly implores us all to seek true physical and emotional connectedness in actual reality.
Now it’s all said and done, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has certified himself as a young director with immeasurable talent and an enormous ceiling, to go alongside his impressive acting credentials.
With his first go at the plate, the rookie has pretty much hit a home-run.