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Can Joseph Gordon-Levitt do anything wrong? Who would have thought that the little kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun would become one of the most interesting artists of his generation? Ever since his re-breakthrough into our cinema culture with the romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer, he has also since starred in Hesher, Inception, 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, and Lincoln. In a world of some pretty bad IMDB pages, this little run Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been on is pretty impressive in term of range and style.
His new film Don Jon, which is the first film Gordon-Levitt has written and directed, could quite possibly be his best. The film follows the life of the title character, Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a well-groomed, macho-man type character who stereotypically would only care about a few things: his crib, family, friends, girls, etc. But the one thing Don Jon really is passionate about is porn. He lives for it. Porn is like an odyssey to him; he prefers it to actual sex. Of course that all has to change when he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), who is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen, and one that wants to change him completely.
The film never tries to shy away from the fact that Don is a relentless tool. His constant womanizing and double-crossing make you think that you should not like his character, but Gordon-Levitt gives off this charm in his performance that makes you root for him. He’s cocky and egotistical but not unrelatable or annoying. This performance probably will not garner him his first Oscar nomination–which is a sad thought to think about–but it is still entertaining nonetheless.
The film is directed around Don Jon’s daily routine, whether it’s going to the gym, hanging out with his boys, going to church–it is all done the same way, and it is centered on him and no one else. That is how Don Jon feels about every relationship he is in: it is all about what he is gaining from the relationship, and not about what he wants from it. This is ultimately his demise for the entire film, or at least through most of it.
Along with a cast that includes Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Brie Larson, and Glenne Headley as Don’s crazy grandmother, Don Jon is smart, confident and has charisma all its own. Don Jon also takes an exploitative look at egocentric ideas and how they can be treacherous. Even though the Don Jon life may be fun and simple, the film gives the audience the simple answer that life is more meaningful when you share it with someone else.