'Don' Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a true Jersey boy, he lives for the party, he looks after his body, his car, his place, he loves his family, he loves his bros, he loves women, yet he's never truly satisfied with his sexual conquests, finding much more in the world of online pornographic material than any physical representation of a woman. And when 'dime' Scarlett Johansson (A 10/10 indeed) walks into a bar, and doesn't immediately put out for Jon, this presents the man with a project, a conquest beyond any usual kind, a prospect, in fact, of more than sex. A relationship. Could this be the void in his life that he's been filling with an addiction to online pornography? And what will his priest say about this during confession?
Along with Gordon-Levitt and Johansson, Don Jon's cast includes Tony Danza as Jon's father, a very Jersey dad, Brie Larson as his sister, perpetually glued to her phone, and Julianne Moore as an older woman in an adult education class who finds a friendship with Jon, and they might just teach each-other more than they learn in class. Gordon-Levitt managed to gather a cast who are all working at the top of their game with a script that is wealthy with jokes, pathos and heart, and under a wise, smart director. It turns out that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's time with hitRECord has really helped give him the knowledge to bring to life something truly remarkable at first go with his debut feature, a film that doesn't lack confidence in any shape, manages to be both broad and full of independent spirit and constantly adds jokes into the mix of what could be a great story told as a drama. Instead, the humour overwhelms the characters enough to make it cartoony, but still only furthers how enjoyable the film is, rather than making it a loony mess that doesn't deserve a few honest moments of character and drama peppered into the mix.
A scene in the back of a car between Julianne Moore and Gordon-Levitt, and in fact every scene between the two, are just stunningly crafted gems, with a good deal of humour and a broken eggshell backstory carefully used only to bring characters to life, not to create easy drama for the sake of easy drama. Johansson gives her role her all as well, a stuck-up Jersey gal who looks down on everyone else and only wants to turn Jon into her perfectly created project. She's not played too obtusely, not the antagonist, just another human roadblock for our main character to realise what he's doing with his life, and a scene towards the end, where any conventional film would put in a big romantic conclusion, is an honest deconstruction of both characters and their relationship, given the fallout over his porn addiction. It's the kind of left-turn in a film that works to be as enjoyable to a large audience, but smart enough to avoid falling down into plot pitfalls that can make it bland and generic throughout, and Don Jon plays well in this ballpark.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut is a stone-cold killer, absolutely hysterical, full of wit and creativity, honest and close to the bone, with outstanding performances through and through, and a collection of songs that are as kitschy as they are secretly enjoyable to sing along to out loud in a car. Don Jon is inventive, fun and well worth your attention, it's the beginning of a new chapter for Gordon-Levitt and I, for one, welcome our hitRECord overlords. Do yourself a favour and catch this film as soon as possible, it's very unlikely that you'll regret it.