Ben Oliver

Banner image for Don Jon

Don Jon

There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.
31 December 2014

Gordon-Levitt plays a porn addict, Jon, who meets the girl of his dreams, Barbara (Scarlett Johanssen), and has to overcome his problems to sort his life out.

This is the feature début for the actor-director and it’s a ballsy one. Jon is a fairly vile Italian American who spends most of his time rating girls with his friends and masturbating. These subjects are tackled full on, it’s awkward to watch but he builds a plausible character.

There’s an interesting idea at play here; Jon’s vision of reality and sex is skewed by porn, and Barbara’s by Hollywood romances. Sadly that’s about the extent of the whole film. It’s a short run time at 80 minutes but even so the characters did not need to be as paper thin as they were. Julianne Moore’s part in particular felt like no more than a device to tie the script together.

The writing has its moments then gets sloppy, and Gordon-Levitt could perhaps have applied some sort of visual flair to the film. Don Jon is short, so why doesn’t it try to make more of an impact?

Gordon-Levitt’s début is solid and I’m not writing him off as a director. However, this film starts down lots of avenues without going down any of them. Much like its lead character, it doesn’t fully commit to any aspect of its story and as a result is a damp squib.