Don Jon (2013)

Don Jon (2013)

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"Ehhhhhhhhh!!!!" #thefonz
“Ehhhhhhhhh!!!!” #thefonz

Twitter Plot Summary: Don Jon is addicted to porn, so how is he expected to establish a genuine relationship? Hmm? Anybody?!

Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Key Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, Rob Brown, Jeremy Luke

Five Point Summary:

1. Oh, moderately graphic.
2. Julianne Moore. A tear-filled lady.
3. Gordon-Levitt and Johansson in a corridor. Oh myyyy…
4. Turns out you don’t necessarily want the super smokin’ blonde – she’s nuts.
5. And that was a fun character study.

Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is your everyday young New Yorker. He is dedicated to his home, his family, his weightlifting, his church, his friends, his car and… his pornography. Whilst everything else is absorbed in moderation, Jon’s addiction to porn encapsulates and dominates his existence. He prefers porn to real sex with women, despite the fact he can get the latter pretty much whenever he likes. Then one night out, Jon sees Barabra (Johannson) stood at the bar and decides to make a move. Whilst looking fantastic, her character is a tough person to like. She also has a massive problem with his porn-viewing habits, and threatens to leave him if he doesn’t stop. So far, so hysterical woman. Step up Julianne Moore, the voice of reason in these difficult times. She provides a balance to the “all women are crazy” concept and is quite reasonable and understanding.

There is a lot of repetition to the script, designed to show Jon’s gradual transition from porn-obsessed, emotionally stunted young man to somebody who can invest in his emotions and form a meaningful relationship with another person. We see him following the same pattern time and time again – the nightclub, the gym, the church, the family meal, the porn – until he attends a night class at the behest of Barbara and meets Esther (Moore). She interjects with a few choice ideas about how he should perhaps do things, like maybe not watching as much pornography, and the story really begins to unfold from there. In fact you could argue it’s a film of two halves. The first is a typical young relationship comedy as Jon battles to keep hold of something he’s not absolutely certain he wants, and the second becomes a more in-depth character study and relationship drama that tries and mostly succeeds in making a valid point.

"Son, we need to have words about you copying my look."
“Son, we need to have words about you copying my look.”

The coarse subject matter, much like Lovelace earlier in the year, will obviously put a few people off from ever seeing it, and a similar number will be outraged without ever knowing the true depth to the story. Looking beyond that subject matter (because ultimately it’s not important), it’s a story about addiction, relationships and emotional growth. It’s also full of humour – Jon’s almost permanently mute sister (not medically, she’s just busy messing with her phone) is a highlight, as is Jon’s interactions with his parents (Tony Danza and Glenne Headley, both perfect). Whilst not covered to a similar extent, his relationship with his friends is also nicely played out, and by the end further emphasises Jon’s transition.

As a first time directorial effort, Gordon-Levitt has made a compelling film that is appropriately hard edged yet has a soft core at its centre. It likewise helps that he also wrote and starred in the film, at least as far as this first effort is concerned, but I think the future is bright with regards to his behind the camera escapades. Don Jon is a story with depth, emotional resonance and nicely balances humour with drama, and adds Scarlett Johannson to the mix – you can’t really ask for more.

Favourite scene: Jon’s sister finally speaks – and she’s completely right.

Quote: ” There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.”

Silly Moment: Barbara telling Jon he can’t do housework when they live together. Say what now?

Score: 4/5

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