Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in fine form in "Don Jon" — and not simply because he packed on 12 pounds of muscle to portray the titular Lothario and porn addict. The film marks the 32-year-old's directing and writing debut, one in which he deftly examines how media affects our approach to love and sex.
Critics are largely feeling the good vibrations too, lauding the film for its no-holds-barred approach to Jon's addiction. Here's what they had to say about "Don Jon":
"It's essentially a romantic comedy in which Jon's sexual fixations provide little more than a MacGuffin to establish his romantic dysfunction. By idealizing intimacy, he's unable to find true love. At first focused on wooing the ostensible girl of his dreams whom he meets at a bar, similarly brazen Jersey girl Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), Jon faces a series of disconcerting wakeup calls when Barbara turns out to be characteristically unexciting in the sack and, upon discovering his internet issues, walks out on him. Salvation gradually arrives when he meets older grad school classmate Esther (Julianne Moore) and forms a more legitimate bond forged in their mutual frustrations with the mundanities and letdowns of day to day existence." — Eric Kohn, IndieWire
Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Director
" 'Don Jon' is definitely smarter than your average R. It's as if the 32-year-old actor has taken everything he's learned — working with directors as diverse as big-vision Christopher Nolan and artful-indie Jonathan Levine and roles as distinct as the time-traveling hitman in 'Looper' and his love-struck cancer patient in '50/50' — and rolled the collective wisdom into 'Don Jon.' " — Betsy Sharkey, L.A. Times
"Perhaps the most amazing thing about 'Don Jon's Addiction' is the fact that Gordon-Levitt could have spun a porn-free version of this love story as an all-audience crowdpleaser, but instead, he opted to engage with what's shaping up to be a real pandemic, as porn increasingly infects the expectations men put on the opposite sex. Where Steve McQueen's 'Shame' took the more obtuse artfilm approach to this sex-obsessed phenom, Gordon-Levitt weaves the topic into a broadly accessible romantic comedy, one that ultimately uses its in-your face style to sneak a few old-fashioned insights about how self-centered guys can learn to respect their partners." — Peter Debruge, Variety
The Leading Ladies
"The movie is like an album. Side one is Johansson. Side two is Moore. And both women are at the height of their very different powers. (Dear movie industry: Johansson's talent has fully flowered. Squander at your peril.)" — Wesley Morris, Grantland
The Final Word
"Gordon-Levitt keeps things riotous for the film's first hour, and if he eases into an ending that's a little Hollywood-standard, after having so much fun tweaking form and content, I'm guessing audiences will cut him some slack. Just as Don Jon is learning the ropes, after all, so is the guy who dreamed him up." — Bob Mondello, NPR
"Don Jon" is in theaters now.