“Porn is another medium and it is, frankly, more popular than movies!” says Joseph Gordon-Levitt on his directorial debut Don Jon, in a recent interview with Andy Young for MovieMaker (look for it in full in our Fall issue, hitting stands this November).


But what about a movie about porn: one that valiantly tries to adopt many of the “more popular” medium’s formal tendencies, tackling the murky extremes of onscreen sexual stirrings—romance on the one hand, empty solipsism on the other? All this, from that skinny kid from 3rd Rock? Color us intrigued.

In Don Jon, the 31-year-old Gordon-Levitt trades on his considerable charms to play Jon Martello—the titular wifebeater-clad, New Jersey hotshot, porn addict—a hair shy of unbearably obnoxious. His daily pleasure-fuelled rut (casual flings coupled with nightly virtual exertions) is thrown open by Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a girl who might actually turn into something serious for Jon, once he figures himself (and his dick) out a little bit.


Onscreen charisma translates to its behind-the-camera equivalent less often than one might think, but Gordon-Levitt’s directorial touch is delightfully self-assured—unsurprising, perhaps, as the man is a short-film-junkie. As Gordon-Levitt tells MovieMaker, “I’ve been learning about [moviemaking] by either being on set and watching directors or by making my own short films. For my 21st birthday I bought myself a copy of Final Cut Pro, and ever since then I’ve been making countless projects.” Well then. The film wears its heart out on its sleeve with its pithy, on-the-nose dialogue (Shame, it isn’t)—but its cast are game for the challenge of bringing clichés to life with soul and verve, and the results are energetic (as is the film’s Tumblr page), fun and heartwarming. MM

Relativity Media opens Don Jon this Friday, September 27, 2013.

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