“There’s only a few things i really care about in my life: my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my boys, my girls, my porn”
―Jon “Don Jon” Martello, Jr., Don Jon.
If you’re a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt foray into creative world you’d know his HitRecord project (including the TV thing that i’m looking forward to) and he’s no stranger to directing short films. But finally he graduated to a feature length film and his directorial debut premiered earlier this year at Sundance Film Festival. It was released under a slightly different title, Don Jon’s Addiction. It was given a wide release on September 27th in the US and it started screening in Indonesia’s local theater from December 3rd.
Jon Mortello Jr. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a stereotypical italian-american machismo, he does not have problems in finding girls to bed, hence the nickname Don Jon. Yet his series of conquest remains pale in comparison to the masturbatory sexual release he found in his of porn. Until he met the most beautiful girl he ever seen, the vivacious gum-smacking jersey girl Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson). When Barbara demands him to quit watching porn and become a well-rounded man, Jon begin to question the relationship and whether the love Barbara has to offer is fulfilling enough. He founds comfort in an unlikely source, an kooky classmate called Esther (Julianne Moore), and learn what he really looking for beyond ass, tits, blow jobs and money shot.
I definitely commend Gordon-Levitt stylistic choice in articulating the story through visual gags, audio bites, and flashy editing. He manage to deliver relatable themes through with gutsy charm. I love the energy of the film as well of the hilarity of the situation presented in it. I love how we saw the film as a cycle of Jon’s daily life. Pad, church, family, gym, club, porn, …soak, spin, dry, repeat.While it might’ve seen repetitive, it actually works to show small changes that is happening to the order and habits in his life. I feel the film is so energized by these editing choice and sound design. It’s one of many little things i adore from the film. I, for one, have a new auditory association every time i heard the start up tune on my macbook.
The casts are damn good at their respective roles! While JGL take the lead role himself and created a character with his smug audacity yet manage to inject a semblance of vulnerability at the right moment. Scarlett Johanson is sooooo amusing with her jersey accent, tight dresses, and faux nails. The two character become an archetype of certain ideals and unrealistic expectations. A trait that should be very relatable for young generations. Julianne Moore imbued a greater depth to her character, adding a contrast to the other two lead character. Jon family deserve a special mention: from the wife-beater wearing Tony Danza who deliver each line with great panache, the noisy mom Glenne Headly who demands marriage, and especially the Brie Larson whose eyes constantly glued to her phones and speak but one line in the entire film. Fun cast made a fun film indeed! The main problem with Don Jon however, is at the execution towards the finale, i really wish for a more articulate ending and giving a chance for the conclusion to stay a moment longer than just a porn money shot.
So, no this is nothing like McQueen’s Shame. Don Jon uses porn as not just a gimmick. I personally think it’s a real issue that most people not aware of its severity just yet. You can see Cindy Gallop’s Make Love Not Porn talk (and website) or Gary Wilson’s The Great Porn Experiment on TED for some example :) But Don Jon is not all about porn despite the ample x-rated montages interspersed within the film scenes. At the very core it was a tale of romance that is grounded to current cultural phenomenon, where people derived their ideas of romance from romcom flicks and confuse sexual intimacy with porn. It’s a solid start for Gordon-Levitt. I definitely enjoyed Don Jon for what it is: an edgy take on conventional romcom. Now I can’t wait to see what he’ll cook up next…
DON JON (2013)
GENRE Comedy, Romance
DIRECTOR Joseph Gordon-Levitt | PRODUCER Ram Bergmen, Nicolas Chartier, Jeff Franks, Bruce Wayne Gillies, Nikos Karamigos, Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley | WRITER Joseph Gordon-Levitt | MUSIC Nathan Johnson | CINEMATOGRAPHER Thomas Kloss | EDITOR Lauren Zuckerman | STUDIO Voltage Pictures, HitRecord Films, Ram Berman Productions | DISTRIBUTOR Relativity Media | COUNTRY United States | RUNNING TIME 90 minutes | BUDGET $6 Million | RATING R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use | RELEASE January 18, 2013 (Sundance), September 27, 2013 (US), December 3, 2013 (ID)
STARRING Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Rob Brown, Glenne Headley, Brie Larson, Tony Danza
DID YOU KNOW? Before Joseph Gordon-Levitt took the title role of Don Jon, he considered casting Channing Tatum for the character. But he wrote Barbara Sugarman with Scar-Jo in mind and elated when she agreed to star in the role.