We tried really hard to watch two movies on the last day at the Mumbai International Film Festival 2013 but there was really no chance that we were going to be able to sit through the debatably-titled Toilet Blues. First there was the question of the film’s overdone sound design. Then the lead pair just didn’t draw us into the story and we were really struggling about twenty minutes in. So when the subtitles drifted out of synch (they were playing before the actors had spoken their lines) we figured it was time to bail.
Which means we only watched Don Jon on the final day.
I have been a big fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRecord initiative. He has provided young creative people with a platform, helped them collaborate with like-minded individuals, and he’s made it possible for those creative contributors to make some money from their efforts.
I’ve also enjoyed his work as an actor, so I was definitely interested when I learned that he was writing and directing his first feature. And when that first trailer popped up, I was sold.
Even so, when Don Jon actually unfolds it is still something of a surprise. Because Mr. Gordon-Levitt’s film is a master class in writing and editing. As a creative exercise this one is right up there with movies like Requiem For A Dream and Memento. That this is a romantic comedy at heart just makes it all that more special. Because it is easy to get away with a lot of flash and dash in a thriller, or horror movie. It is an altogether different—and impressive—achievement to be able to employ several filmmaking devices to finally provide the world with a modern view of romance.
Mr. Gordon-Levitt is totally committed as Jon the family/car/home/friends/girls/and porn-obsessed guy. Scarlett Johansson looks like she was born to play Barbara, the woman who steals Jon’s heart. And the way Mr. Gordon-Levitt and his editor Lauren Zuckerman employ repetition to tell their story–and highlight the transformation in the movie’s lead character–really needs to be seen to be believed.
This is superb stuff and I am confident that Don Jon will only cement its cult status with the passage of time. The film is sexy, sharp, and has just the right amount of disdain for its lead character, and as such, an entire generation of young people raising themselves on a prioritization scale that values lust and sex over trust and intimacy.