Don Jon

Don Jon ★★★½

A balancing act if ever there was one, Joseph Gordon Levitt wants to make both a romance movie and a satire of the romance movie, and by golly methinks he does succeed.

First and foremost, the movie is entertaining as anything I watched this year. Don Jon is a shallow character interested only in surface level life - his body, his pad, his car, his girls, his church, his porn. Barbara, the ideal girl for Don Jon, is likewise shallow: she searches for meaning as prescribed by the Hollywood romance. What she wants is not intimacy, but showmanship. Both Gordon-Levitt and Johansson deliver excellent performances, both walking a tight rope and neither faltering for an instant.

The supporting cast is great (I really wish Brie Larson had been given more to do, but she does give brilliant reaction shots). Of course Tony Danza is wonderful. Of course he is. And if you need a shot of crazy grounded warmth, there's no better actress out there than Julianne Moore.

It's an exciting debut from one of the most charming actors around: Gordon-Levitt is a smart cinephile who manages to turn the romance movie cliches to his own liking through a good script and some really nifty directing choices: we get the mysterious golden glow around Scarlet Johansson, we get the 360 kissing scene, the abrupt change of song as their eyes first meet. He's smart, and his movie has something interesting to say about the vapid and overblown expectations we are all guilty of thanks to our consumption of media - whether it be through romance movies or pornography or whatever your poison of choice.

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