Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Don Jon

I saw Don Jon at the 4 Star in October.

Don Jon starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt; with Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly & Brie Larson; directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt; (2013) - Official Website

This is the third film with Brie Larson which I've saw in 2013 - Spectacular Now, Short Term 12 & Don Jon.

Don Jon is about Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young man with a range of problems.  First, he has an addiction to porn & by extension masturbation.  I don't know how he finds time for a job and keep hydrated given the levels of self-gratification he engages in.   The porn and masturbation mask deeper issues.  Jon judges himself by the attractiveness of the women he beds.  I can't remember his minimum criteria but if you rate a woman's appearance on a 1 to 10 rating (as in Bo Derek in 10), Jon only goes after 8s and 9s; 10s being too rare in the working class New Jersey club he frequents.

By objectifying women through porn and a rigid classification system, Jon is unable to achieve any level of intimacy with a woman; hence is compulsion to masturbate - it's the most satisfying sex he can have.

Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) is the 10 that Jon has been waiting his whole life for.  However, she has some issues of her own, including a need to control Jon.  What bothers her the most is that Jon watches porn while their dating; even after they have sex.  She has reason to be concerned because it is a sign that Jon can't maintain a healthy romantic relationship.  However, Barbara is a bitchy JAP more concerned with controlling her man.  The film relies on stereotypes of Jews, Catholics and New Jersey.

One of Barbara's projects is for Jon to get a college degree so he dutifully attends night classes.  He can't even put porn away during class.  He watches it on his cell phone and Esther (Julianne Moore), an older classmate sees Jon watching his porn and quickly recognizes all the issues which Jon has been avoiding.  The two begin a relationship which Jon is initially embarrassed by but as it progresses he is liberated by actually making a connection a living person.

The supporting cast buoys the films.  Tony Danza is perfect as Jon's father and it's not hard to see how Jon turned out the way he is.  Brie Larson doesn't say a word until the end as Jon's younger sister.  Constantly wearing ear buds, it's not until the very end that she summarizes Barbara's shortcomings that she makes an impact on the film.  Glenne Headly is Jon's mother.

Don Jon is Gordon-Leavitt's directorial debut and I'm suitably impressed.  I appreciate the risk he took in making a film about a subject which is not likely to draw the rom-com audience.  In fact the subject material may make a lot of people uncomfortable for various reasons.  I've long thought young people today are narcissistic and overly sheltered because modern technology isolates them.  So sayeth the man who writes a blog and goeth to the movies by himself 90% of the time.

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