‘Write about what you know’ is the saying, and it seems what Joseph Gordon-Levitt knows is porn.
Having been a bachelor and ladies man for years, Don Jon finally gets a serious girlfriend, but his addiction to pornography proves troubling for the relationship. He must struggle to find a balance, or ditch one to make it past the problem.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed and starred in this screwball romantic comedy, and it certainly is an interesting debut production. Opening with a selection of TV shows, adverts, porn videos, and other various clips, Don Jon sets itself up as a thought provoking film on popular culture and the feminine form while staying light and entertaining. The film continues this with the characters focusing entirely on looks, with Don Jon commenting that the girlfriend he loves is simply the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen while finding porn much better than real sex. The film delivers questions which haven’t been asked in mainstream film before, and although it can’t resolve issues with men and their obsessions over ‘perfect’ women, it does a fantastic job at raising awareness of this and pornography in an intelligent and surprisingly cheery manner.
Gordon-Levitt buffed up for the role of a hyper-masculine Italian stud and noticeably distances the character from his typical intelligent and left wing characters; Don Jon is a much more simple-minded man who loves a few things including his place, his ride, his body and his porn. At the same time as creating such a thought provoking film, Gordon-Levitt proves to be fantastic as the cocky lead character, subtly hinting at insecurities while maintaining a convincing hot headed macho persona. This is a great change and one that will be remembered for Gordon-Levitt fans as a film that brought him out of his comfort zone and into new territory.
However, the film does seem a little unfocused at times as despite the theme of pornography playing a major role, the film also raises interesting questions about dominate women, moving up the career ladder, and perhaps most directly the undermining of the Catholic confessional by Priests forgiving sins far too easily, allowing sinners to keep re-offending. These all dilute the main theme of the film, and it’s obvious that Levitt has more than one idea and more than one film in him.
Don Jon proves to be humorous, thought provoking and completely unique in turning the romantic genre into a discussion about pornography in everyday life; Levitt is certainly an exciting new filmmaker we’d like to see behind the camera again.