‘Don Jon’ Review

Don-Jon-poster

Overall Rating:  3/4

Cinematography

This is what I mean about comedies being able to have a style/look to them. The aesthetics of the film, from lighting to composition, aren’t cheapened just because it’s a comedy. Interesting enough, it comes from Thomas Kloss who may remind some of Fear. Don Jon is his best film in terms of creativity in cinematography, and hopefully he works on another one with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the future.

Acting

don_jon_addiction2The feelings I get from Don Jon are that Joseph Gordon-Levitt really is that guy. He’s believable, from the voice-overs to the sinister stare he gets when on the prowl for his next hook-up. I keep trying to remind myself of the dorky kid from 10 Things I Hate About You.

Scarlett Johansson plays both trashy and privileged well. Her character is obnoxious, but I enjoyed her in the role. Tony Danza isn’t a babysitter anymore to say the least and he’s great in this film along with his hilarious on-screen wife played by Glenne Headly. Brie Larson hardly speaks in this film and still adds to the dysfunctional family dynamics.

Julianne Moore cries and gets naked. That should be the title of her biography.

Directing

I find it impressive when a director gets such powerful performances while starring in the film as well, like Ben Affleck in Argo. They don’t stand behind the camera, watching from the same perspective as the audience. It’s much more subjective and interactive and I think that takes a different set of skills from a director.

You watch Don Jon and can’t help but realize that Joseph Gordon-Levitt really did what he wanted with his film of which he is the director, writer, and leading man and that he did it well. It’s different and entertaining. The film is unapologetically what it promises from its trailers and Joseph Gordon-Levitt definitely has my respect and blessing as director for being especially ballsy (points for my most appropriate use of “ballsy” ever).

Writingthe-actor-moves-behind-the-lens-for-don-jon

The structure of this film is basically what’s seen from the trailer in that it’s almost a feature-length montage sequence. The paralleling of the same scenes in certain locations works for Don Jon by not slowing down the pace or losing any of the film’s humor in the repetitions. The repetitions also play off the film’s emphasis on one-sided relationships in clever ways, especially when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character confesses his sins to an indifferent priest whose identity remains unknown.

The third act falls short when it becomes reminiscent of lovable, dark comedy from the early 70s, which I’ll leave unnamed to avoid Don Jon spoilers. The ending is too awkward for this film mainly because of how forced it feels in relation to backstories and character arcs. Still, I admire this film for pushing boundaries and not holding back on its premise.

Score

Nathan Johnson, who composed other films starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt such as Looper and Brick, scores Don Jon. It’s nice that Joseph Gordon-Levitt got to know the people working in those departments on his non-directorial films and that he appreciated their work. Now as a plug for Brick, everyone should see it. It’s probably the best work from either of them and it’s completely underrated.

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