Don Jon (2013)

(On Cable TV, December 2014) Has Joseph Gordon-Lewitt become the spokesman for an entire generation?  That’s a lot of pressure to put on a guy’s shoulders, but in comparing Don Jon with (500) Days of Summer, it’s hard to avoid feeling that in-between those two characters, he’s tackling how modern young men feel about love.  But whereas his (500) Days of Summer character was a hopeless romantic, his Don Jon is a cynical, stunted ladies’ man addicted to pornography, to a point where it’s cutting him off from the world.  It takes an encounter with an equally-addicted romantic movie fan (Scarlett Johanssen, playing against type as an unlikable urban princess) for him to grow up a bit.  That Gordon-Lewitt would take on such a role is impressive enough, but to find out that he both wrote and directed the film makes it even more impressive.  Don Jon is at its best in its first two-thirds, as the story remains relatable and sharp-witted observational (the Swiffer scene is the one that remains in my mind weeks after seeing the film); the last third gets a bit preachy and far-fetched to its own detriment.  I would have liked to see a bit more commentary on the toxic pull of romantic comedies and a little bit less of the ending’s easy sentimentalism.  Still, as a directorial debut Don Jon is self-assured enough to be interesting, with good performances from good actors and a script that’s both funny and insightful.  Let’s hope we won’t have to wait too long for Gordon-Lewitt’ next film as a writer/director.

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