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dir-scr Joseph Gordon-Levitt
prd Ram Bergman
with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Rob Brown, Jeremy Luke, Brie Larson, Paul Ben-Victor, Italia Ricci, Anne Hathaway, Channing Tatum
release US 27.Sep.13, UK 14.Nov.13
Cock of the walk: Danza and Gordon-Levitt
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
BERLIN FILM FEST
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Gordon-Levitt catches us off-guard with this remarkably assured writing-directing debut, which also gives him a chance to go against type as an actor. It's a warm and raucous comedy that wins us over as it reveals the soft side of a dedicated hard-man.
In New Jersey, Jon (Gordon-Levitt) has a list of things he cares about: his body, pad, ride, family, church, friends and girls. But he likes porn more than everything, including sex. Hanging out with Bobby and Danny (Brown and Luke), he spots Barbara (Johansson), a perfect "dime". And he decides to play the long game, falling in love in the process. The problem is that she has zero tolerance for porn. And the only people he can confide in about his addiction are his parish priest and a fellow student (Moore) at his night class.
Jon is such a charming loser that we are immediately drawn to him. His endless macho posturing (his buddies call him "The Don" for his womanising prowess) makes him as cartoonish as a Jersey Shore character, and yet there are small details that eat away at his gym-honed image, such as his love of house-cleaning. And when we meet his parents (brilliantly played by Danza and Headly), we begin to understand why he's like this. Gordon-Levitt is perfect for this role, a little boy in a muscle-man's skin.
He also directs the film with a flashy style that's in keeping with Jon's perspective, flickering through the routine of his life while constantly flashing distracting soft-porn images. And it's very funny, with naturalistic dialog that's packed with in-your-face comments, wry observations and rude insults. All of the actors shine in their roles, milking edgy humour from each moment of interaction. And there's a soft-hearted centre that further wins us over.
That said, when the script starts confronting Jon about his addiction, it begins to feel a little simplistic. Giving him a heavy dose of self-discovery kind of undermines the film's blackly humorous set-up, as his journey takes him into those Important Life Lessons. But even as it gets a bit preachy, the film is packed with terrific scenes. And as Jon is challenged to confront who he thinks he needs to be, the film raises some telling ideas that get our minds spinning.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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