Oct 01 2013
It’s a part of many, many, many men’s lives, but it’s always something kept secret, and rarely something discussed on film in any meaningful capacity. And while I expected Don Jon to be a story about a Jersey Shore-ified Joseph Gordon-Levitt cleaning up his act for Scarlett Johansson, I got a movie with a different focus instead.
Rather, Don Jon is at its core about a man and his love affair with porn, rather than any particular woman. The film is written and directed by JGL himself, and is not the movie you were probably expecting. In the film, Gordon-Levitt is Jon, a macho bro interested in the core life tenants of his family, gym, church, women and of course, porn.
Jon’s is a master ladykiller, and goes home with a different hot girl from the club each and every night. But always he’s left unfulfilled, and talks in great detail about how porn fills a desire that real women can’t. Real girls simply won’t do the stuff they do in porn, and his imagination allows him a transcendent experience that real sex just doesn’t provide.
Eventually, Jon finds one club girl above all others, Barbara (Scarlet Johansson). She’s a “dime,” as the kids say, a perfect 10 that makes him actually want to settle down. As his girlfriend, she’s mortified to discover that he watches porn, and the comedy becomes about “do girls seriously not understand that all guys watch porn?”
But that’s not where the film rests. While it’s true most men partake, Jon is a particularly bad case, and is actually a fully fledged addict, something pointed out in part to him by his night school classmate, Esther (Julianne Moore).
Don Jon is absolutely funny in parts, but the overall tone is rather sad as Jon is incapable of forming real relationships due to his addiction. It really is an interesting issues worth exploring in a medium like film, and though perhaps we were expected a movie poking fun at Jersey stereotypes, it actually ends up being a lot more than that.
The film is well shot, has a great script and a fun-yet-tragic performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And as writer/director, he’s responsible for the first two as well. Kid’s got talent.
I will say that those not used to porn may find themselves a bit uncomfortable in the film. Though there’s barely nudity with the central actors, there are many internet clips of real life porn spliced into the film. No, there’s nothing graphic shown, but I know more than a few women who have seen the film who didn’t exactly love what was shown. I can see more than few ladies expecting to see a love story between JGL and Scarjo, and getting something else entirely.
It’s just interesting to see a film deal with an issue like this, and Don Jon handles it better than one might expect. It’s not the most memorable or powerful of films, but it’s worth watching nonetheless.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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