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Originally published Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 3:04 PM

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‘Don Jon’ fails to seduce

A review of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first writing/directing effort, “Don Jon.”

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 2 stars

‘Don Jon,’ with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Rob Brown, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson. Written and directed by Gordon-Levitt. 90 minutes. Rated R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use. Several theaters.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a young actor who’s acquired much goodwill, through honest and charming performances in movies like “(500) Days of Summer,” “Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “50/50” and many more. Now he’s written and directed his first film, the romantic comedy “Don Jon,” and while it’s a bold choice and not without promise, that goodwill doesn’t quite extend through the final frames.

Gordon-Levitt, bulked up and speaking in a growly rasp, is Jon, a bartender obsessed with women (a different one every week) and porn, which he consumes in vast, constant doses.

In his bar, he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a nasal-voiced beauty looking for romance. Need I tell you that Jon’s porn habit gets in the way of their relationship? Or that Jon eventually learns, with the help of another woman (Julianne Moore), that love means more than sex?

The movie is well-acted and has some clever touches, like the character of Jon’s sister (Brie Larson), who has almost no lines but is a constant presence, with a cellphone in her hand and an irritated look on her face.

But Gordon-Levitt the writer/director repeats the same scenes over and over (Jon at the gym, at church, at dinner with the family) for emphasis, resulting in a movie that feels as if it’s going nowhere. By the time Jon learns that “you have to lose yourself in another person” (a nice turn of phrase), it’s too late for us to lose ourselves in the movie. “Don Jon” is already gone.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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