By Gina Scialabba:
Ok, first off, this is not a movie about porn. Well, not totally.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ( “50/50,” “The Dark Knight Rises”) is one of the most versatile, intelligent performers of our time. Officially a Hollywood triple threat, he writes, directs and stars in “Don Jon,” one of the best movies of the year.
Not many actors-turned writer/directors can pull off this feat. The shortlist includes Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles and Woody Allen, just to name a few.
Yes, “Don Jon” is set amidst a backdrop of pornography, but that’s not the point of this film. It’s a study of objectification, intimacy and narcissism. It tackles a common issue in our society: addiction, whether that be to sex, pornography, fairy tales, working out or watching sports like his father (Tony Danza).
Jon Martello, (Gordon-Levitt) is a typical, working class Italian male. Think “The Situation” from MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” He’s a simple man with simple priorities: his body, his pad, his car, his family, his church, his pals, his gals and his porn.
Jon spends his days working a dead-end job, weekends at his parent’s house carb-loading on pasta and his nights at raucous Jersey nightclubs bumpin’ and grindin’ his way into a different woman’s pants every evening.
Hence, the nickname Don Jon.
So, what’s the problem? The problem is the world he’s created for himself is a house of cards waiting to fall.
He prefers pornography to women. So much, in fact, that even when he brings home a “perfect 10,” he usually ends up sneaking out of bed to watch porn on his computer.
He’s not the only one with an addiction. Jon’s new girlfriend Barb (Scarlett Johansson) lives in her own Cinderella fantasy world, hopelessly addicted to romantic comedies.
Both want to find true intimacy, but really don’t know how. Neither Jon, nor Barb even knows their true selves.
Johansson plays a gum chewing, bridge-and-tunnel princess with convincing earnestness. She wants to mold Jon into her version of Prince Charming. But in Barb’s “Happily Ever After” the prince surely doesn’t masturbate to adult films.
As you might imagine, Barb isn’t very understanding of Jon’s habit.
The screenplay is smart, witty and sincere. This movie could have easily become another Hollywood happy ending (no pun intended) where Jon and Barbara “learn the error of their ways” and rush back into each other’s arms. This is not that kind of party.
Perhaps my favorite part is the unusual friendship between Jon and Esther (Julianne Moore, “Magnolia,” “The Big Lebowski”). They have an unspoken familiarity between them. Just maybe they can find solace in one another. Or at least something real.
Should you go see this movie? Absolutely. If for nothing else, Gordon-Levitt packed on 12 pounds of rock-hard muscle for this role.
If you go…
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama
US Release Date: 27 September 2013
MPAA Rating: R
Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Written by Joseph Gordon-Levitt