Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a man of many talents. He’s been in the business for over 25 years and has finally taken a step behind the camera. The actor directs and stars in Don Jon, which he also wrote. It’s a story like none we’ve ever seen before. It’s not a romantic comedy, it’s definitely not a drama, but it’s something that deserves our attention.

The Players

  • Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Screenwriter: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Rob Brown, Jeremy Luke, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson
  • Cinematography by: Thomas Kloss
  • Original Music by: Nathan Johnson

The Plot:

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a modern day Casanova. He parties and sleeps with anonymous women, but his biggest vice is porn. He’s constantly comparing real-life sex with the over the top antics of X-rated videos. He tries his hand at a normal relationship with a woman named Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), who also has delusions about love. In her eyes, every guy should be like Ryan Gosling in The Notebook. The film follows Jon as he discovers the root of his intimacy problems.

The Good:

  • Editing: Kudos to everyone in the editorial department. Not only did they pull the film together, but they had to cut around countless porn videos. There are several montages featuring sex scenes that would have easily pushed Don Jon into NC-17 territory. Thankfully, the editors kept us from seeing anything beyond R-rated material.
  • Point of View: We’ve never seen a story about porn addiction told in such an earnest way. As a viewer, we see how it’s ruined Jon’s perception of sex. We also see how Barbara’s living in a world of Jack and Roses, which has ruined her ability to accept anything less than Titanic-level romance.
  • Tony Danza: Where has this man been? Tony Danza is still as charismatic as ever. He’s back with a bang. Watching him drop F-bombs and be an inconsiderate husband and father is a far cry from his days on Who’s the Boss?.
  • Tone: The subject matter could make people uncomfortable, but it’s approached through humor and honesty. Porn addiction is real, but most people brush it off because it’s not as dire as drugs or alcohol. There are laughs but also moments of reflection and consequences.

The So-So:

  • We Want More Esther: This is clearly Jon’s story, but Esther (Julianne Moore) has a pivotal part in it. The character has her own hang-ups, but is instrumental in helping Jon acknowledge his. She has a backstory that’s barely explored, but then again, Don Jon’s not about her. Maybe we just want more Moore?


Don Jon is funny, but most of all it’s interesting. It’s a character study about a porn addict, but explores the objectification of relationships as a whole. You may not notice at first, but Gordon-Levitt’s trying to teach us something.

The Rating: 9/10

Don Jon opens in theaters September 27.

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Will you be seeing Don Jon this weekend?