Don Jon (UK - BD RB)
Marcus meets a dime, changes his ways but nothing changes this review.
Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) or Don Jon to his buddies, due to his different woman every weekend routine, is a guy who likes to work out, get laid and watch pornography. In fact the porn element of that routine is becoming his favourite part and he doesn't see a problem with it. Meeting a “Dime” of a girl, Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), Jon sees this girl as the one to settle down with, however when her love of romantic Hollywood movies and her visions of Jon being her Prince Charming rules out Jon’s porn habits, he struggles to live in Barbara’s fantasy vision of love and intimacy... and not cleaning his own house. Jon’s decision to settle down may need to be re-considered.
Is there anything Joseph Gordon-Levitt can’t do? He seems to be great in every genre of film he stars in, he seems a charming guy off screen and now he’s directing movies as well. Don Jon is actually a fairly typical ‘first’ movie for a what would usually be an unknown director out to set a name for himself. Playing in a the always fun areas of relationships, sex, intimacy, growing up and how men are different from women, Don Jon is having fun with a handful of clichés that reflect modern youth and their view of life, love and that un-achievable perfection when it comes to “The One”.
Scarlett’s awesomely accented Barbara seems to tick most of the boxes when you meet her. She’s deliriously hot (not a lot of acting required there from Scarly Jo) and seems down to earth enough to befriend too. She seems like the nice girl. The one you’d take home to mom and pop and the sort of girl you’d expect to change the sort of guy Don Jon is shown to be pre-Barbara but then comes that side that lets it all down. Barbara’s persistent to have her future life exactly as she thinks, or how media outlets tell her it should be creeps in more and more and her un-achievable standards and requirements from her man soon begin to put a spotlight on a segment of some of the females out there that haven’t really been this clearly displayed on film, which actually goes a long way to showing off Gordon-Levitt's ability to entertain within his writing.
Don Jon really does showcase Gordon-Levitt's potential in filmaking. Directing wise, it’s solid, not inspiring yet but solid and fits into the comedy drama genre easily. He even mixes it up a bit through the three acts which shows a bit of variation to boot. His writing, especially in the dialogue between himself and Scarlett dances between funny and brutally real very well and while Don is a fun character who’s journey was enjoyable, Barbara felt more real to me, to the point where you actually start seeing her as an ugly person (despite the fact she’s played by Scarlett Johansson). The ongoing discussion about what people get out of sex, intimacy and pornography is very well balanced and the male fantasy smashing up against the female fantasy of romance goes a long way to keep this film moving, especially when Don Jon’s world (and his hair) begins to feel less slick and more casual.
The image here is bright, colourful and especially modern. Skin tones are near perfect, detail is crisp and the fine layer of grain gives everything a filmic look despite the digital feel. Blue skies are all very striking but the film takes place largely inside. That doesn't make the film suffer any though. Everything is well lit, enabling all of the cast to glow on various levels depending on their costumes. Primary colours look fantastic , blue sand reds leap off the screen especially well in fact.
Across the board this ticks the boxes, fine detail, good textures, sharp edges and when the film is bathed in natural light it looks even better. This is a good looking film that sits on Blu-ray wonderfully. It’s not perfect but in all the right ways that somehow made it feel more thought about style wise (as opposed to cheap and simply shot), so rounding up, this glossy, bright, warm flick should keep fans of the film very happy .
The score is immediately strong in the opening sexy imagery driven credits. It sounds crisp and the beats hit all the right levels. Then comes the computer start up tone which, sounds as overwhelming as Don Jon’s description of it (okay maybe it didn't make me "as hard as a rock" but you know what i mean). As the Don's voice over comes in, Gordon-Levitt's voice is strong and central and the combination of everything is a great audio entry into the forthcoming events.
Moving onto the club scenes, the dance music sits behind us in the rears and slightly behind the strong clear dialogue in front speakers. It’s not the widest of tracks but there’s a cracking bit of bass selling the impact and there’s some good use of layers to build the reality of some of the locations. The film’s changing moods are reflected well in the score changes and quiet moments work equally well with small elements of ambience keeping the world of the film ticking over.
‘Hit Record’ (3:43 HD) has Gordon-Levitt discussing favourite things with what I’m guessing is fans on his website/Twitter feed. To tie in with the themes of the film he poses questions such as “Can we truly love a ‘Thing’?” and all inter-cutting with normal folks talking up their favourite items. Y’know the usual passive aggressive marketing social media presents us all with.
‘Don Jon – The Origins of the Film’ (07:21 HD) is a good detailed EPK style set up with Gordon-Levitt talking quite honestly about the story that gestated from a 2008 idea about the two sides of the fantasies of passion and love hitting somewhere in the middle between the male and female perspective. The road to the film being made and how working on 50/50 inspired the actor to make the big move is described. Scarlett is celebrated for her involvement and how much she added to the project and all in all this is a great showcase of Gordon-Levitt’s attitude towards the little project that became his first movie.
'Joe’s Hats' (04:51 HD) looks closer at writing, directing and acting all at the same time and how Gordon-Levitt feels modern cinema lends itself making the process much easier. The ‘Making of’ (06:46 HD) expands on this and gives more of an overview of the crew of the film.
‘Objectified’ (05:08 HD) focuses in on Don Jon’s journey in the film and how his porn mentality becomes more realistic . Scarlet gets to talk about her media image and how it’s very different to her day to day reality and then Gordon-Levitt and his cast all weigh in on their experiences with objectifying people and a little bit on their experiences with pornography.
‘‘Themes From The Film’ (05:40 HD) talks with Nathan Johnson, the film’s composer and how the music changes within the film.
Don Jon is a great first movie for Gordon-Levitt. It feels like an legitimate indie success despite its big name stars at the centre of it. It’s funny, focused and plays the right beats at the right times and makes use of all of the core players and their usual charms. The disc looks great sounds great and comes with a chunk of short extras that all add up to quite a good set of personal feeling additions from Gordon-Levitt. All in all, it’s a recommendation. It’s not the funniest film out there, it’s not the best drama but it all works well and makes for a good couples flick to watch that’ll cause chuckles and discussions alike.
Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 24th March 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Easter Egg: No
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 90 minutes
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