Don Jon starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt is a film that centers on Jon a handsome, charismatic sweet-talker who is known by the moniker “Don Jon” because of his ability to easily and frequently charm women into bed.
Oh, and he loves porn. I mean, really loves porn.
He has no trouble with women and enjoys his one night stands but he makes it known that porn is better than the real thing. No matter how beautiful the woman is, he can’t seem to be satisfied or fulfilled by the sex he has with them. Several scenes show him silently leaving the bed postcoitus to find his laptop and “lose himself” in the hypersexual world of porn.
But Jon’s blissful relationship with pornography is disrupted and challenged when he begins to date Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johanson) who is “the most beautiful woman he’s ever met”, a high maintenance beauty with an affinity for romantic comedies and an abhorrence for porn.
This film sheds light on the unrealistic unexpecations that pervade the media about sex and relationships and how they create these impossible idealistic perspectives of these different aspects of intimacy. People who feed into it are destined to be continually disappointed as Don was with the sex he had with women.
During one scene, he goes down a list of certain dirty acts that he loves in porn but is missing in live sex, it becomes apparent that fantasy and reality are blurred for him. This is shown when he rags on the missionary position because “the tits lie flat. can’t see her ass, can’t really touch her ass cause she is lying on her back”. A lot of porn is made for the male gaze, with the women positioned and prostrated in certain ways that will give the optimal angle for the viewer…not for a mutual pleasurable experience.
The way the movie portrays his faltering ideals about sexual intimacy is brilliant. His sexual interactions are shot in a “reality” versus “expectations” format. Real porn scenes are interspersed during his sexual liasions to show his inevitable disappointment with his sexual conquests. The movie is shot in an attention-grabbing way with heavily stylized scene shifts that are rapid and choppy; the quick changes in scenes suggests the surface-level, emphemeral nature of his relationships.
light mood of the film makes the heavy subject matter of addiction and the unrealistic expectations that result from the media’s portrayl of sex and relationships more poignant. It doesn’t take a serious stance or come off as too preachy. The humor that underlies the dark implications of the main character’s porn addiction and his inability to truly connect to someone intimately makes Jon more human.
All of the interactions between his family, friends and classmate Esther (Julianne Moore) are full of comedic yet weighty moments. Although the acting is great (except for the unconvincing, over-the-top jersey accents), some of the characterization is shallow. The women characters seem to exist as props to further the story arc of Jon.
At times, the women in the film come off like archetypes instead of real people. The controlling girlfriend, his withdrawn teenaged sister with a phone attached to her face, and his mother who is obsessed with marrying him off are some of the main female characters that make-up the film. The shallow characterization was forgivable because there were enough redeemable aspects of the film. The characters are definitely entertaining but I would have liked more profundity in the female characters.
This movie isn’t revolutionary or completely novel but I would recommend watching it for a funny, entertaining, and at times, emotive experience. 3.9/5.0