Yes, he is a Hollywood heartthrob and, yes, his movies make a lot of money –The Dark Knight Rises being the third-highest-grossing film of 2012 while Inception is the 36th highest-grossing film of all time, but that doesn’t keep him from shedding his skin in many diverse and controversial roles.
The 32-year-old Joseph-Gordon Levitt is a man who is not afraid to appear on screen naked, bare his soul out, or simply try his best at a rather simplistic cinematic project. With his upcoming movie Don Jon, Joseph-Gordon Levitt makes his directorial debut, writes and stars in this graphic romantic comedy about the ups and downs of modern-day porn culture slash Hollywood-style romantic comedies and what they’ve done to relationships. With an ensemble cast that includes Scarlett Johansson (playing lead opposite Levitt), Julianne Moore and Tony Danza, Don Jon creates the big star propaganda with minimal budget and a unique storyline.
Ever since his early twenties, Levitt has starred in many controversial movies, including Manic (2001), a psychological drama with co-star to-be, actress Zooey Deschanel, Mysterious Skin (2004), in which he played a gay prostitute and child sexual abuse victim, Brick (2005), a modern-day film noir about a high school murder, and Latter Days (2003), a film about a sexually repressed Mormon missionary who falls in love with his gay neighbor.
Not one to shy away from controversial and bold roles, Levitt has carefully built a movie career that enhances his image as a solid actor and also a creative individual. He has tried his hands at many small projects as well as huge blockbusters, but Levitt’s creativity doesn’t stop at risky performances. In 500 Days of Summer (2009) he portrays your average guy falling for the mysterious coworker and how the relationship passes through the crests and troughs of a consuming and messy love story. 500 Days of Summer is told through a nonlinear narrative and has garnered fan following, as well as critical acclaim. Levitt proved again his ability to attract attention even with the simplest movies about love. But, is 500 Days of Summer just another rom-com? The movie director, Marc Webb, describes it as more of a coming-of-age story, with the center being failing relationships and how it affects us either negatively or positively and the powerful grasp of a heartbreak on our mood and psyche.
Just like that Joseph-Gordon Levitt takes a regular story about a porn addict who falls for the girl who seeks Hollywood romance and turns it into a curveball. Don Jon doesn’t just tackle issues on our everyday minds like porn, love, sex, and commitment, but it also brings us deeper into the core of modern-day relationships. In the movie, Levitt doesn’t condemn Jon Martello or Barb, he just shows us the complexities of how these two get together and how both their expectations on love make for interesting drama.
So is Don Jon a riskier, adult-ish version of 500 Days of Summer? You can argue with “yes” or “no,” but you just can’t deny how Joseph-Gordon Levitt never fails to mesmerize us with bold movie choices, fleshy characters and realistic script.
Written by: Jaylan Salah