Don Jon Pushes the Envelope

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s film “Don Jon” premiered last week on Sept. 27. The actor—now making his directorial debut—described the film as his “project” that he has been working on for a few years, and endearingly welcomed the criticism of the audience.

Don Jon’s interesting opening credit sequence—consisting of sexy clips taken from game shows, commercials, and music videos intertwined with the names of the cast members—set the tone for the film ahead.  Having been roused, audience members seemed to inch closer to the screen as they awaited the much anticipated reveal of Levitt’s character Jon, a New Jersey resident and quasi-porn addict who is obviously bemused when it comes to love, relationships and meaningful personal connections as a whole.

The film keeps its audience members on their toes, as it offers humorous scenarios of nightclub escapades and sex from the point of view of the modern man.  While the film gives the initial impression of being a romantic comedy, it does not pause to sway away from the typical romantic clichés.  Although there are scenes reminiscent of the typical meet-cute, Levitt is quick to satirize the idea of “sailing off into the sunset” through Jon’s moments as the film’s narrator.

With that said, as opposed to gooey sentiments of love, motifs of sex, manipulation and objectification reign wild throughout the film.  Scarlett Johansson offers a convincing role—alongside her spot-on New Jersey accent—in which she portrays the sexy vixen who catches our protagonist’s eye.  While Johansson serves as the main eye candy for the film, her role does not end there.  Rather she serves as a symbol for the objectification of women and the impossible fantasy that exists in nearly every man’s soul.

It is clear that Levitt has been inspired by his own career in the limelight and his perception of how society now interacts with one another.  Numerical ratings of women, and men being described as “sexy beasts” throughout the movie calls to attention how we value relationships in the modern world.  Amidst the comedy, there seems to be a stressor on the idea that we rarely interact with each other beyond superficial situations.

The film is in a way similar to 500 Days of Summer—which also stars Levitt—in that it revolves around the hope of achieving love, but touches upon the inevitability that one must overcome their own misconceptions before achieving it.

Alongside the audience’s laughter and cheers, there was an air of understanding; Don Jon is relatable in that we all experience the fantasy of love followed by a crushing realization that our perception of someone or something is false.  This awareness seems to be happening at a slower pace now that we have the perks of media to dull our sense of reality.

In short, Don Jon is simply a breath of fresh air amongst the trite films of today.  Offering subtle, yet articulate commentary on everyday situations, Levitt shows great promise throughout his debut. If this movie is any indication of his success beyond acting, it appears like he’ll be heading into the world of directing and screenwriting with great vigor.

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