If you are familiar with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or JGL as he is popularly known; then you are more familiar with him as an actor rather than a writer/director. Don Jon is his directorial debut. In addition to directing this film, he is the star, writer and producer. Surely, tackling four positions says a lot about Gordon-Levitt’s talent , not to mention his dedication.
That dedication bleeds through on screen with the actor/director’s character Jon, who the actor portrays as convincingly as he has other parts in other movies like The Dark Knight Rises, or Looper. Never the less, Gordon-Levitt’s acting, nor the superb acting of the remaining cast, which includes; Tony Danza, Scarlett Johannson and Julianne Moore is the focus of this article.
Instead, the topic of import here is the message that Joseph Gordon-Levitt means to convey as writer/director. The reality of this film is palpable and rings so true one has to wonder if the story is not based on someone from Gordon-Levitt’s life, or at least someone he knows. Perhaps the characters and the specific story within Don Jon are fictitious, but the issues and problems the lead character faces are very real.
Here we have a young man whose priorities are: His body, the myriad of women he beds, his apartment, his car and porn. The latter appears to bring him more satisfaction and fulfillment than the second item in the list. This of course, is to his detriment, because he eventually finds himself in a relationship with a woman he “loves” yet he still does not find fulfillment with her.
Don Jon is not so much a comment on how pornography keeps men from finding satisfaction in their relationship, but rather that when it comes to men who think they get more out of looking at pornography, or sleeping with a new woman every day/week, than they do when in an actual relationship, are missing the big picture.
When Esther (Julianne Moore) asks Jon what it is that he gets from looking at pornography that he doesn’t from a relationship, his reply is pretty enlightening. “I can just lose myself in it.” he says. In that single sentence the root of the problem for Jon is revealed. Enjoying his internet activity more than being with a woman is not the problem. It is where his focus lies.
There in we find the message Joseph Gordon-Levitt wants to convey. Men and women often go from one person to another not solely because of a habit they have or just because of an addiction. Instead, they lose sight of where their focus should be due to the habits, addictions or even fears that get in the way of the things that are important. Such as losing oneself in another person whether it be a lover, friend, spouse, or family.
What makes Don Jon a successful film, is that it does not seek to embellish on real topics by making them fantastical or improbable, but takes a real issue and portrays it in a straight forward and objective fashion. We cannot hide from what happens on screen. It forces the viewer to observe their own life and how they approach relationships and what it is that they focus on in order to find fulfillment.
Looper is the sort of film that is enjoyable; not because it has plenty of action and violence, but because the story is solid and well thought out. As the story goes, Joe is a “Looper”-a type of contract killer in the future. Through narration, Joe explains that time travel is invented and outlawed thirty years from the time set in the story. He says that the crime bosses are the only ones who use time travel illegally in order to dispose of troublesome individuals who exist at the time. So, Joe and other Loopers are contracted to kill those people sent back in time and dispose of them.
Joe is one of the best Loopers in the business, but his job and future are threatened when his thirty years older self is sent back and escapes. This creates a number of paradoxes which are all addressed by the films end. We do learn that the reason old Joe escapes has to do with a man from his timeline called “Rainmaker” who has been sending the aged Loopers back in time to be killed by their younger selves.
The action gets intense and the visual effects are top-notch however, the most astonishing achievement visually is how the film makers made Joseph Gordon-Levitt; who plays Joe, resemble Bruce Willis (Older Joe) so closely. There were moments where they looked identical. Levitt should also be praised for his ability to mimic Willis’ facial expressions and even his manner of speech. Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels play integral roles in the film as well.
Looper is definitely worth a watch though it might be a good idea to leave the kids at home. This film has quite a few bloody scenes, plenty of swear words, some female nudity and themes that children will not understand.