ARE OUR EXPECTATION OF LOVE REALISTIC?
It’s an interesting premise, which made Don Jon a very promising film. But just like it happened with the initial hopes of its characters, expectations did not meet reality for me. I understand this is Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s first feature film, so we could simply be in the presence of his own directing style. If so, great – it just means that I don’t share his film aesthetics, which is perfectly normal and legitimate. But if we agree that Don Jon‘s structure was in need of some polishing, then there’s a solid base for my disappointment. Nonetheless, Don Jon stands as a pretty bold and confident directional debut that works to some extent, and will certainly have me keeping an eye on Levitt’s next work.
So there’s definitely something positive for us to hold on to: the cast does a pretty nice job conveying their respective characters, which makes for a enjoyable watch. Gordon-Levitt himself plays the leading character – a young jersey shore guy type, who takes care of his body, goes to church every week, enjoys going out with his friends as much as cleaning his home, and is addicted to porn. All he was missing was a good tan. Opposite him is Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a very attractive woman who not only loves those cheesy romantic comedies, but also buys into every single thing they depict – and they are as unrealistic as the dirty videos Jon sees daily.
There’s also Julianne Moore as Esther, a colleague from one of Jon’s night classes, who has issues of her own but is more much experienced at life, thus bringing Jon’s take on love a bit more down to earth. And then we have Tony Stanza as Jon’s father, who is a blast to watch, just like the mother, Glenne Headly. You would and can expect northing short of great from all of these.
It’s something to behold, but in the end it’s just not enough. Such a great starting point makes me crave for an incisive look on the questions it poses, and yet we’re left with an obvious conclusion (of course love and relationships are not what they expected, get a grip people), a rather cheap ending, and a disregard for Barbara’s fate that leaves me a bit mad: so Jon gets to find his way with the help of Esther, but Barbara, she stays the same delusional girl she was from the beginning. There’s zero growth for her, she’s painted in solid black and white, and somehow, that doesn’t seem fair. Perhaps I didn’t get the clever satire that a lot of people rave about, maybe I’m not seeing the greatness in Don Jon, but doesn’t all of it seem just a bit too shallow?