Jon Martello Jr. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a New Jersey bartender and womanizer. Yet, in spite of his ability to land sexual partners, Jon has a dirty secret: he’s hopelessly hooked on internet porn. For him, no real life bedmate, no matter how gorgeous or skilled, can compare to the endless parade of images he finds on the web. Even after what would seem an exhausting session in the sack, Jon still feels the call of his laptop. Jon’s routine seems fixed for life until he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson). She’s a sassy Jersey girl who proves a rare challenge to his powers of seduction. But can he reveal to her his awkward addiction?
For his feature length directorial debut, ‘Don Jon’, Gordon-Levitt assembled an enviable cast, donned a wife beater and accent, and completely immersed himself in the character of Jon Martello Jr. The character is a drastic step away from anything else Gordon-Levitt has played, and he does a good job too, but the real shinning start here is Johansson. Playing a shallow bombshell that sees Jon as a ‘tool’ to manipulate, Johansson’s demanding Barbara is a departure from many of Johansson’s previous roles, a self-aware sexpot that uses every inch of her body to gain her advantage. Johansson delivers whenever she is onscreen, and unsurprisingly she helped a lot with Gordon-Levitt’s development of the Barbara Sugerman character. Upon a second viewing at home, Julianne Moore’s roles grows in impact and influence as it’s a real and assured performance that anchors the last third of the film.
Grace (Brie Larson), a young supervising staff member of a foster care facility, looks after troubled teens and reckons with her own past alongside her co-worker and long-time boyfriend, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). But when a young girl named Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) is admitted Grace’s past comes rushing back on her like a tidal wave. Now Grace must find a way to reach out for help, the same way she instructs her charges, in order not to drown in a despair all her own.
There has been much said about the star-making and mesmerizing performance from Larson in Short Term 12, and all of it is very well deserved indeed as her performance is stunning, but not as much has been touted about her counterpart Gallagher Jr. Just as impressive as Larson is Gallagher Jr’s understated and brilliant turn as Grace’s long suffering and devoted boyfriend Mason. The patience and understanding Mason shows even in the midst of Grace pushing him away as hard as she can is earnest and inspiring and Gallager Jr is fantastic in role. The rest of the supporting cast is strong as well, the casting is perfect here as all of them are playing to their strengths, as Stephanie Beatriz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine plays the stoic and strong Jessica and Rami Malek (the Mummy from Night at the Museum) is the doe eyed newbie Nate that sticks out like a sore thumb. Even the kids in the home put in some solid work with Keith Stanfield as Marcus becoming a real standout.