By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
A premise involving a man who watches a lot of porn a little more than what’s considered normal to say the least, could have been a disaster and such a risky subject for Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his directorial debut to tackle. Levitt also wrote the film which sees his character Jon, a ladies man, a gym lover, a typical good looking guy in his twenties having fun. He goes out with his mates, spies on women and sees who they could end up with at the end of the night. There’s just one problem; Jon prefers getting his kicks watching porn rather than having sex with a real woman.
The film opens with the ritual of how Jon does his business. He’s very particular and takes his time to find the right clip. A lot of images feature on screen from the opening which will become the norm as he regularly visits one main website that must have had a lot more visitors after this film came out. Jon likes certain things in life like his car, going to church, mainly to confess his sins and loves his apartment. It’s just the porn/sex in his life that makes things complicated.
It looks like things could change for Jon when he meets Barbara played by Scarlett Johansson who he really likes. Barbara is the opposite of Jon. She loves the idea of the romance displayed in movies and believes she can have one just like them, whereas Jon believes that romance is a myth and hates those types of films. Barbara isn’t easy, making Jon wait before they do the dirty stuff. When it happens, Jon still prefers porn. Barbara is sexy and beautiful, but Jon explains exactly what went wrong. It’s the main aspect I love about this film. The character goes into detail of his likes and dislikes about sex. Levitt also chooses to show these details visually as well as mentally.
It must be a challenge starring in a film that you’ve also directed, however this is by far the best character Levitt has played to me. He’s not only changed his body and wardrobe, he’s also taken up these new mannerisms and accent that is stereotyped to young, Italian, muscular men who’s good with charming women to bed. Jon’s a very strong character to play as he’s not one-dimensional. It’s played so that you really get things from his perspective in regards to his problem from his voice-overs to the conversations he has with his friends. Levitt and Johansson were a very good pairing and worked so well off each other.
There’s also a great addition to a strong cast from Julianne Moore who plays Esther, a women from Jon’s class at college who tries to help Jon with his problem. She comes from a different generation where the social media that is highlighted so much in film was not there so much when she was Jon’s age.
My score for the film is 86%. Lowest mark for soundtrack, highest for direction. I could actually give it higher. This film is very grounded within its subject. A lot of scenes are slightly replicated as there are many that take place in the church, at the gym, on the laptop, in his mother’s dining room. This only elevates Levitt’s brilliant debut which could have so easily been classless and distasteful. One word to describe it is, actually romantic. It is very much in a different way that is usually depicted in romantic comedies I feel as the ending grabbed me and sealed a great film experience that had great humor, was very well shot and well-acted. “Dear father…”