Don Jon (2013) - 8 / 10
“There's only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.” - Jon
So…Sex? Hard to talk about. Masturbation? Hmm, harder to talk about. Masturbation + Pornography? Dear Lord, now we're taboo.
Is this a great movie? No, but it is an original one and it feels like a breath of fresh air in the current Marvel Comics shoot-'em-bang-bang-explode movie thingy.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed and stars as Jon, a twenty-something man who loves women but not as much as watching porn.
The former child star has turned into quite the up-and-coming young actor as he's worked on rebranding himself as something more than that kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun and 10 things I hate about you. Over the years, he's starred in such films as The Dark Knight Rises, 50/50 or Looper, and proved to us that he’s the type of actor that can play a comedy or a drama with such ease. However, his most impressive performance to date might just be the one he gave in front and behind the camera with Don Jon.
Don Jon touches on that extremely embarrassing fact that every guy is terrified that his most deep secret will come out. What secret is that? Well, it's probably best hearing from the protagonist, Jon, himself: "Every guy looks at porn, every day.”
This movie shows us a real problem, the process of porn turning our heads, making us believe in perfection and making us selfish as lovers. You watch porn and think that you don't have to please a woman, you don't have to worry about anyone but yourself. In the real world, in relationships, the other person matters just as much as you, but sometimes, even the real thing is not as good as the fantasy and the ease of it.
Don Jon is about that confusion of liking and appreciating porn more than real women, of becoming addicted to the idea of “perfection" and ultimately making us aware of the effect it has on all us men, making us irritated little boys, incapable of truly connecting with another person.
The message is not that porn is bad, only the way we think and use it is misleading to reality.
I think that this is the first movie I've seen which accurately depicts 21st century man's relationship with pornography as a simple fact of life, without judgement. Usually in a Hollywood film the guy watching porn is seen as some kind of creep, but here, as Jon himself says, “every guy watches porn, and if he says he doesn't he's a liar”.
What really impressed me about Don Jon, though, are the performances that Levitt pulls out of his colleagues/actors. I've honestly never seen Scarlett Johansson give a better performance than she did as Jon's trashy New Jersey girlfriend, Barbara, maybe even better than her ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona” role. She's absolutely despicable as she slowly begin to reveal her true intentions and tries to paint Jon as the bad guy when she discovers his addiction. She’s addicted to sugary fantasies of male sacrifice, waiting for her prince on the white horse to come and swipe her of her feet. "He gave up EVERYTHING for her," she comments as they come out of her latest chick flick 'Special Someone'. "It was MEANT to be!” she said, daydreaming.
On top of that, Tony Danza gives a extremely amusing and ridiculous performance as Jon's impulsive father who gets into dick-measuring (figurative :P) contest with his son every Sunday at family lunch.
Julianne Moore is fantastic in the role of Esther, playing a much larger role than I had originally expected, and did a great job helping Jon grow as a person. And yes, she’s still hot, even though she’s 53 years old.
However, the most impressive of them all is Levitt himself, who has repeatedly proved that he is one hell of an actor and one who has earned my trust as a moviegoer. The role is something so far from what I would have ever pictured him portraying, but he pulls it off beautifully as he plays the scumbag good-guy stereotype.
I must confess that the only 2 things that come to my mind when I think of this movie are the opening sound of his Macbook Pro, that’s his leitmotif of getting ready for “business” and his writing for Jon's weekly confessions in church, that’s just hilarious: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession. Since last Sunday I had sexual relations out of wedlock two times. I also watched pornographic videos and masturbated seventeen times. For these, and all the sins in my life, I am sorry.” - Jon.
Yes, the film does have a lot of sexual humor and content in it, but it has some reason to, seeing as the film is dealing with addiction to pornography. And what may have seemed immature and like teenage humor for the first little bit of the film, soon went away and it became one of the most penetrating and intelligent films of the year.
It's the kind of film you would almost want younger teens to see in order to learn something and perhaps plan their own lives and future relationships a little more differently.