Review: Don Jon – 4/5

Director:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Certificate:  18

Cast:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza

Running Time:  90 min

 

Plot:  Don Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is obsessed with routine and seeks perfection in all aspects of his life, but what he likes most of all is some quality alone time at home with a porno. Though he finds it difficult to find sexual satisfaction outside of porn, he tries to rectify this when he meets the alluring Barbara Sugarman (Johansson).

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 Joseph Gordon Lift-It as Don ‘Qui -Gon’ Jon 

Implying that compulsive masturbation is a serious problem (as does Don Jon) may rub some people the wrong way but the popularity of movements like NoFap suggests it is rather a big deal. Don Jon is the slick, intelligent directorial debut of movie star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and could be best categorized as a Drantiromedy. (dramatic anti-Rom-Com)

Like a mix between Shame (2011) and Groundhog Day (1993), Jon’s life follows a strict pattern, week in week out: He goes to the gym, cleans his ‘pad’, drinks with his ‘boys’ and as a matter of personal pride brings home a different girl every Saturday night. He also jerks off an awful lot, but every Sunday at church his detailed confessions allow him and do it all over again, guilt free. This all changes after a girl named Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) rejects his attempts at a one night stand and they begin to date. Barbara proves more than a little domineering however, and Jon struggles to please her while keeping his Kleenex- devouring addiction under wraps.

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Don Jon deals with the trials and tribulations of a porn addicit –what many may consider a trivial subject- in a way which is relatable (dependency is dependency, no matter what the source of the fix) and thanks to the snappy script, extremely humorous. Gordon-Levitt’s film also seeks to challenge some of the widely propagated views in our society; a raunchy opening montage depicts the overtly sexual imagery present in all forms of media today. This in turn informs the female objectification and misogynist attitudes of Jon and his grunting buddies, who can only refer to women as being between 0 and 10.  Jon is clearly a product of his environment, and the scientific breakdown of his masturbatory routine demonstrates his disillusion with real life relationships and sets a tone of brutal honesty.

The entire cast of Don Jon are fantastic. JGL succeeds in making the selfish meathead Jon rather endearing- especially fun is the celebratory bro fist at reducing his weekly prayer sentence. Scar Jo is captivating as always, and does well to parallel Jon’s character with her own stereotypes regarding masculinity. She nails the New Jersey accent too. Highlight of the supporting roster is Tony Danza as Jon Sr, who is on fine sweary form and gets the best of the laughs.

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Don Jon is an engaging film, executed with style and wit. It’s especially enjoyable to observe the minute changes in the recurrent motifs, as Jon tries to grow and improve. The only problem comes in the form of Jon’s interactions with fellow night class attendee Esther (Julianne Moore)- in the context of a film focused on harsh truth and believable characterisation their relationship rings false. Minor niggle aside, the general consensus seems to be that Don Jon has won the cinema war this weekend (over opponents Dom Hemingway and The Counsellor) and it’s definitely worth a watch. NoFappers be warned: Don Jon features frequent footage of actual pornography and may result in relapse.

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