Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 2013)
Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a modern day Don Juan, with a short list of things he cares about: "my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn". Although he has an active sex life with women he meets at nightclubs, he looks at pornography on the Internet habitually, preferring it to sex.
Easily compared to Steve McQueen’s near masterpiece Shame that was presenting the empty life of a man addicted to sex. Don Jon, however, wants to be a comedy about a New Jersey douchebag who’s life has been almost reduced to his sessions of masturbation in front of his porn and his weekly confessionals. Even when he meets the most beautiful thing he has ever seen in Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) he is still unsatisfied by their sexual life and prefers to jerk off to porn. This is also what that will end this relationship. Only his meeting with Esther (Julianne Moore) will bring him closer to reality and to discover how to enjoy more having sex with a woman.
Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut is far from being a total disaster but it is also not the success he wants it to be. He treats his subject like his character has an addiction but manage to treat it softly and more with humour than seriousness. The line between comedy and drama is not completely well defined and it might one of the reasons why the third act seems disjointed from the rest of the movie. Even its conclusion seem like an unplugging or a lack of real substance to bring to the nice first and second acts. Obviously, a solid final act is the hardest thing to write. The rest however promises nice things to come from Gordon-Levitt and he has some interesting skills as a writer-director. It would be interesting if he could have been helped by a script editor to help polish some elements here and there.
There are some very well written scenes like the moment Barbara discovers that Jon was watching compulsively and the fight after that are some of the most well written scenes of Don Jon. While other scenes seem extracted from buddy flicks. It is a hard thing to accomplish for a young director to have persistence and to put out a strong first effort. Overall, not bad but not great either.