So I watched Don Jon…
I avoided watching this movie for a really long time. It just looked like (from its trailer) an unimaginative vanity piece from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and while I was (and, in fact, still am) a fan of his, I just didn’t feel compelled to watch this movie. But luckily, two years after its release and through the magic of tv re-runs, I got a chance to see it and to see how truly wrong I was for not giving this movie a chance.
Okay, basic plot: Jon Martello is a self-obsessed playboy who spends his time jumping from one one-night stand to the other. Even though he’s having more than enough sex, Jon never feels fully satisfied and only finds true sexual relief by watching porn online and masturbating to it. No woman has ever made him “lose himself” like porn does. Tired of the lack of sexual fulfillment, Jon decides it’s time for a change and seeks a serious relationship with Barbara (Scarlett Johanson) – a woman he recently met on one of his nightly escapades. The new relationship does bring a change to Jon’s life but he finds himself still unable to reach full sexual pleasure unless watching porn.
This movie surprised me with how good it was. I went in hoping for an average movie but expecting a poor one and was shocked with the quality piece of film that I received. This movie feels original, fresh and different from anything I’ve ever seen. This movie was produced by hitRECord – Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s production company – and you can tell that this movie is independently produced by the daring and fearless nature with which it addresses its subject matter. Jon is a porn-addict and he spends a significant portion of this movie either talking about porn or actually watching it. There are a plethora of porn clips in this film but the movie never feels smutty or crass. It has this great raw energy to it and offers a great depiction of what life as a single (or even involved) man can be.
Don Jon reminded me a lot of That Awkward Moment, the two movies don’t share much in terms of story or style but they are both made from almost identical perspectives. Both these movies tell the traditional love story – that we’ve seen a thousand times in film – from a man’s perspective. This is really a guy’s movie and I know that I found several points in this film that I could relate to and that almost mirrored my personal experiences. This is really great work by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who wrote, directed and starred in this film) and I truly regret not seeing this at the cinema because he delivers an incredibly honest and genuine piece of film.
I also love the self-awareness this movie had at times. Jon isn’t a fan of movies but to please his new girlfriend, he sits through countless romcoms with her. One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is its comparison of how romcoms are to woman what pornography is to men. Both genres depict Utopian fantasies that have all the perfect features that people are looking for in their own lives: that perfect first kiss, that unbelievable orgasm; all these ‘movie moments’ that we want in our own lives but often don’t have.
The acting in this movie also terrific. I didn’t know that Scarlett Johanson and Julianne Moore were in this movie, had I done, I definitely would have gone to the cinema for this one. Scarlett Johanson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt do great jobs individually and have amazing chemistry together, their New Jersey accents are also really well put on and added some depth to their characters. Watching Julianne Moore is always a pleasure and she does an amazing job in this movie and really makes you care about her character even though she only shows up about halfway into the film. Moore stars as Esther, an older woman that Jon meets in his night class and the two start an unlikely friendship that helps Jon learn more about his inability to experience full sexual pleasure with a woman. Tony Danza puts in a cameo as Jon’s father and he still has all the comedic charm that he did back in his days of Who’s The Boss. One of my favourite characters in this movie has to be Jon’s teenage sister – Monica – who is played to perfection by Brie Larson. Monica doesn’t say much in this movie (I think she literally only has one line in the entire movie). She spends most of her time on her cellphone but when she does eventually speak, it’s absolute gold.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. It’s smart, it’s slick and, most importantly, it’s really funny. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job bringing this story to life and I’m optimistic for any other projects he might be producing. Give it a watch 8/10