Don Jon (2013)
Rated – R
Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julian Moore
This is the writing and directorial debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and he also stars in the title role as Jon, a young man who runs a routine and sticks to it. He loves his family, church, boys, girls, apartment, and most importantly his porn. Why does he love these things? Because they all give him a feeling that is unmatched by anything else in the world. Don Jon will most likely be remembered as “the movie about porn” but there are a lot of things that prove that statement to be wrong.
Okay but first thing’s first, yeah there is a lot of talk about porn in the movie. Jon loves it and states that every guy in the world loves it. He’s even quite poetic when he digs deep inside himself to try and explain to the people around him who don’t understand. There’s something that he feels when watching porn that he never feels when he’s with an actual woman. He describes it as “losing himself,” but even he can’t understand why he doesn’t lose himself when he’s with a girl.
This guy-driven romantic-comedy goes through its motions when Jon meets Barbara (Johansson) at a club. After tracking her down on Facebook (porn and Facebook, how modern!), they have lunch and start a relationship, but Barbara wants to get to know Jon, his friends and his family before they ever sleep with each other. While this disappoints Jon at first, he knows he’ll always have his porn.
What happens between Jon and Barbara makes for a good discussion. The greatest aspect they both have going is that they’re both incredibly attractive, but beyond that they’re very different. This part of the plot demonstrates a careful pen in Gordon-Levitt’s screenplay. Barbara is a type of loud-mouth bitch that we’ve seen before, but it’s shown with reason by the way she was grown up and the love stories she believes in. Plus, I’m sure she’s not alone in the world when she believes that watching porn while in a relationship is considered some kind of cheating.
While Jon changes and attempts to recreate himself to meet Barbara’s needs, he really doesn’t make substantial changes until the unlikely friendship of another student blossoms. What I like about the interactions between Jon and Esther (Moore) is that just because she’s older doesn’t mean she has all the answers. Her life is in shambles but still does offer an insight that Jon could never have reached by himself.
Don Jon offers a variation of the rom-com for guys that comes off as fresh because of some reinventions. The film benefits from the chemistry of Gordon-Levitt and Johansson, who tip-toes around their complicated characters and situations as well as you could without over-acting. And after it’s all over, it’s tough to not be happy for Jon, who with the help from everything he loves, finally learns to lose himself.