2013 SXSW Review: DON JON

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

The uber-talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt writes, directs and stars in this superb portrait of a young man struggling to find happiness in his love life, but seeking it in the wrong places and people. Jon Martello, known to his admiring buddies as “Don Jon”, has a smooth way with women. Nearly every weekend, Jon and his friends hit up their local night club and with nearly no failure, Jon ends up going home with a new conquest. Always left feeling unfulfilled, Jon finds or, rather, “loses himself” in internet porn.  When Jon falls for a not-so-easy conquest named Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), he attempts to change his old habits, which proves to be a much more difficult task than he anticipates.

With his feature directorial debut, Gordon-Levitt proves himself as an exceptional writer and filmmaker. He also manages to pull off a magnificent triple threat as the star of his film.  His performance never falters in Don Jon.  He is slowly, but surely rising to the top of my list of favorite actors working today. The supporting cast is truly incredible as well. The movie also features superb performances by Tony Danza (Jon’s father, Jon, Sr.), Julianne Moore (Jon’s friend Esther), Glenn Headley (Jon’s mother, Angela) and Brie Larson (Jon’s sister).  Gordon-Levitt presents a film that has the perfect mix of humor, real life issues and heart. I hope to see his work receive plenty of accolades early next year. Now that the festival is over, I am to happy to call Don Jon my favorite film of SXSW 2013.

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