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GOOD VIBRATIONS

The ever-charismatic Joseph Gordon-Levitt crafts an engaging and amusing directorial debut.


DON JON'S ADDICTION

A pounding rhythm and a swift, dynamic camera movement reveal Don Jon sitting at his computer, about to watch his more-than-daily dose of pornography. From the very first second of its opening sequence, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s quite unexpected directorial debut proves immediately intriguing – grabbing its audience through the sheer power of its relentless editing and sharply exaggerated dialogue. A simple, earnest film for the non-cynical, part romantic comedy, part character study, DON JON’S ADDICTION is surprisingly assured. Above all, it is a film of momentous rhythm and infectious energy – precision as entertainment.

Womanizer “Don” Jon Marcello (Gordon-Levitt) likes the simple things in life: his church, his fitness, his girls, his bar and his porn. That is, until he meets the seemingly perfect fit in bodacious babe Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), as superficial as himself and, as soon becomes apparent, equally selfish. In the process – and through a chance encounter with an older woman, Esther (Julianne Moore), Jon will learn that there is a little more to life than self-satisfactory sex.

The plot is admittedly slight and formulaic, but as a vehicle for its actor and director, DON JON’S is a commendable exercise in performance. Gordon-Levitt takes on the challenge of a completely different character type – the predatory alpha male rather than the accessible and understated guy next door.

Gordon-Levitt blatantly juxtaposes Jon’s addiction to pornography with Barbara’s own fascination with romantic comedies – or the manipulative power of cinema. Whether commenting on his own compulsion for performance, or pointing to the validity of “low-brow” entertainment as a valid, if addictive form of expression, Gordon-Levitt arms his debut with an incisive, if thinly self-conscious and deconstructive edge.

Like porn, DON JON’s is ultimately spectacle. It is a film of famous, beautiful bodies dry-humping in a corridor, of hard-hitting music cues, of keen editing and self-aware camera movements. Gordon-Levitt seamlessly carries the film on his shoulders, ever-driving and irresistibly charismatic, proving to be an effective entertainer both in front and behind the camera.


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