#TIFF13: “DON JON”
We all know Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s abilities as an Actor and even a Singer, but how about as a Producer, Writer and Director also? Don Jon is one of the 2013’s hidden Cinematic Gems and those of us attending the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival are fortunate enough to see it first.
The subject matter on paper appears dark, but what we get here is something daring, uplifting and rather charmingly honest. Strappingly-magnetic New Jersey Bartender Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt) grapples with his dependency on Pornography, while on the surface maintaining a devout dedication to Family, Friends, trying to make work a relationship with the gorgeous Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) whom he meets at a Club one night. Things start off wonderfully until Barbara begins imposing her ideals on Don Jon, as we see him taking a night course to propel him into Husband material. Here we meet the quirky Esther (Julianne Moore) who gets Don Jon to look within himself a bit further as he struggles with his Porn-viewing habit, finally being confronted by Barbara on the matter.
As a Film, Don Jon certainly has plenty of heart to it and Gordon-Levitt succeeds largely in taking something which could purely have been comical, turning it into something meaningful. At every turn we find ourselves rooting for him and putting aside judgment on this – pardon the pun – “Coming”-of-Age Tale. Johansson‘s performance is nothing short of phenomenal, manipulative but forgivingly so, disappearing into a fiery vision of seduction. Gordon-Levitt and Johansson have an undeniable chemistry and we find ourselves wanting more of it. Moore is cast perfectly here as Don Jon‘s hungry yet vulnerable Classmate, pestering but always intriguing and someone we want more to know.
Don Jon is a triumphant Tour-de-Force in this post-Jersey Shore era. Remstar Films releases on Friday, September 27, 2013 and those attending the Toronto International Film Festival will have a chance to see it Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 6:30 PM (Princess of Wales Theatre) and Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 3:00 PM (Ryerson Theatre).