Don Jon is billed as a romantic comedy-drama film, a slice-of-life story about twentysomething Jersey boy Jon “Don Jon” Martello, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing triple duty as actor/writer/director. Jon loves his family and friends, attends church regularly, and keeps his apartment spic and span. He’s also addicted to porn.
Jon meets and falls for Barbara Sugarman, played by the lovely Scarlett Johansson, whose movie tastes run to the romantic. Jon and Barbara’s relationship seems like a match made in heaven until Barbara discovers the other women in Jon’s life—the ones he views on his laptop. As wonderful as sex is with Barbara, it can’t compete with cyberspace voyeurism.
So how does this conflict play out? Does Jon mend his ways and become an anti-porn crusader? Does Barbara accept his favorite pastime? Or does he find someone who will? Does he install parental controls? I won’t tell. You have to see Don Jon and find out for yourself. Or not.
Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a critics’ rating of 81% and an audience rating of 60%. It got high marks from the Sundance Film Festival who said “it resonates with its utterly authentic realization of time and place.”
Do I recommend Don Jon? It depends. Not if the F-Word makes you all aflutter and a bombardment of pornographic images puts you over the edge. And, unless you want to be privy to descriptions of the, um, results of gazing at the so-called actors performances, I’d suggest that you watch something else. If you’re an earthy sort, sure, give it a try. Film buffs can analyze the film’s deeper meanings. To be fair, the toughest scenes were in the first twenty minutes.
Don Jon has some good moments—the one of Jon and Barbara discussing house cleaning is a gem. And when Barbara meets Jon’s family (played by Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, and Brie Larson), you may get insight into how Jon came by his porn habit. And any of the scenes of Jon with Julianne Moore are stellar.
There’s a message in this movie that’s buried beneath the language, images, and sexism and it’s not an anti-porn one—rather it’s a commentary on how the media encourages unrealistic expectations and helps to blur the line between fantasy and reality.
I do appreciate creative efforts regardless of how I feel about the results. And so I applaud Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I’m sure he’ll enjoy a long and promising career.