Don Jon is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directional and writing debut, where he also plays the lead role as the main character Jon. Jon has an obsession with watching online pornography, he only cares about a few things in life and is happy going from going day to day doing the same stuff. Until he meets Barbara.
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Staring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza & Rob Brown
Run Time: 90 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now (Digital Download)
Jon has a good life, with a repetitive formula, but like with a lot us gives a sense of comfort, though we get a sense the character is in a rut. He takes care of his apartment, goes to church, visits his family, works out at the gym, picks up girls at the club with his mates and of course, enjoys plenty of internet porn. Jon prefers porn to real sex as he finds its to be more varied and can lose himself in it. He talks to the audience as the why porn is better and without going into too much detail has some good comedic points. The film has this comedic tone throughout but this isn’t a comedy. He picks up girls at the club and after sex still isn’t quite satisfied so he turns to the internet to fulfil himself. Jon, like some males, has developed a high expectation through watching porn on what a girl should look like. When out on the town with his mates at the club they scout the area and rate every girl in sight.
This of course changes when he meets one girl, Barbara Sugarman played by Scarlett Johansson. She is is everything Jon wants out of a girl, describing her as a “dime” and starts to date her. The film uses repetition well. Jon does the same activities throughout the film and Gordon-Levitt shoots and frames them virtually the same, though each time being slightly different. Barbara, similar to Jon, has developed an expectation of what a man should be through watching romantic comedy movies. When the two go to see a typical rom-com Jon narrates, calling out all the tropes and while he sees little value in it Barbara is truly immersed. She starts to ever so slightly change Jon, such as by not having sex until she has met his family and friends, and putting him innight classes to learn how to be a business owner. Jon is more than happy to go along with it until he is discovered watching porn.
The film is essentially about relationships and how people treat each other like objects rather than people; this isn’t your typical rom-com, its really more of a comedy-drama. It’s talks about how both genders view relationships in a different way and how both are fantastical. It does this incredibly comfortably too, Gordon-Levitt has a keen eye for framing and some comedic moments happen through its tight editing and use of sound. Additionally, the little shots of Jon’s road rage are always good. Everyone in the film offer great performances, particularly Tony Danza as Jon’s father, who plays the hardened male character well with slight bit of irony.
Amongst the comedic moments is a serious film that picks apart genre conventions and doesn’t end the way you think it would due to a somewhat different direction with the third act involving Julianne Moore’s character. Some may struggle with the film as it has a lot going on. Jon has his mates who are funny but not in the film enough, used mainly for comic relief. Same goes for his family and his sister who only utters one line throughout the film which I suppose is for the profound affect, similar to the Silent Bob role in Kevin Smith’s movies. The third act also goes in a different direction than some may expect. I thought it was brave but some may lose interest.