BIFF Review – Don Jon (USA, 2013)


As BIFF winds down the movies certainly do not. The last screening of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon graced the Palace Cinemas last night and guests were greeted with champagne and a chance to be photographed. It was a nice touch to bring a little bit of Hollywood to Brisbane.

Anticipation for Don Jon  has been brimming with the stellar cast for JGL’s brainchild. There seems to be nothing Joseph Gordon-Levitt can’t do. He can play the sweet dork, the super hero’s sidekick, the apathetic teen and now the asshole that isn’t an asshole.

Don Jon explodes with satire on the perceptions of sex and how our media distorts it. Audiences can draw the parallels between Jon who derives all his sexual experience and guidelines from porn, and Barbara who believes her relationships should be like that of a romantic movie. Think about it ladies and gentleman, how many people do you know or have known that made love like a porno or loved like a rom-com? We all have that friend. And this movie portrays the misconceptions we all face every day in an absolutely superb way.

It’s observational, but Don Jon  is also witty. The tongue in cheek humour and the stylistic qualities mock every aspect of this film. Look out for the repetition, the signs, the cinematography – it is simply an explosion of cinematic symbolism.

It’s smart, it’s funny, but it also holds substance. Every member in this cast takes the objective of his or her character and captures it in a real vignette of an every day person. They’re developed, they’re assholes, but they’re real assholes. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hits the right balance of arrogant and funny to the point he’s confused about himself, but maintaining a tender side that says he is a person and he will grow and change like all of us will do.

Julianne Moore was perfect in every way. There is no need to explain her character yet, but she brings a genuine touching story without overplaying the sadness to the point that it becomes nauseatingly miserable.

Every aspect of the film seems to have a message. But Joseph Gordon-Levitt did well to let the message just do a teasing, tantalising dance on the screen, rather than trying to shove something down the audiences throats.

But one of the most subtle and ingenious characters is his sister, Monica, played by Brie Larson. Viewers might remember her best for her character Kate Gregson in the television series United States of Tara. But in Don Jon she masters the art of subtle acting and perfect facial expression. She delivers one line in the entire film and when she does speak it feels like a Goddess of Wisdom has entered the screen.

Crass, satirical, funny and over all touching, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s triple combo director-actor-writer debut has made the rounds at the festivals. Now let’s hope it comes to mainstream cinemas in Australia soon.


Don Jon screened at – and was reviewed during –the Brisbane International Film Festival


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