Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Don Jon (2013)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut is an offbeat character study of a young, working-class Italian-American whose life is divided between family, church, and hanging out with his friends, and who also happens to be a porn addict struggling to find a meaningful and lasting relationship among the many women in his life.

Gordon-Levitt turns in a surprisingly effective performance with a nuance that elevates it above the caricature into which it could have easily devolved. Scarlet Johansson delivers a tour-de-force as the controlling and manipulative woman who drives him back to porn, and Julianne Moore strikes the right balance of sadness and sympathy in her role as the older woman with whom he finally begins to find a meaningful relationship.

Stylistically uneven, the film is still a solid directorial debut for Gordon-Levitt, who seems to be willing to take chances with the difficult subject matter. The script (which he also wrote) moves at a good pace, even if the characters aren't as fully developed as they could be. It's very much the kind of material one could imagine Martin Scorsese working well with early in his career. Anchored by the strong performances of the three leads, it's a romantic comedy-drama with an unusual and surprising premise that is worth checking out.

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