What’s better than a movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore? A movie with JGL, Scar-Jo and Julianne Moore about porn addiction, duh. Joseph Gordon-Levitt nails it with his directorial debut of Don Jon, which (much like the protagonist) is bold and confident, both stylistically and in subject matter.
In the film, Jon–a Catholic church going meat-head who delivers his Hail Mary’s while lifting at the gym–takes us through a narrative of his life, sex life, and his unhealthy relationship with porn.
Jon meets his dream girl, Barbara (Johansson), and a wiser woman, Esther (Moore) and the film zones in on why men look at porn, making parallels to why women drool over romance films. Gritty reality vs. anal bleach and money shots, or the rom-com’s equivalent—the kissing in the rain/at the airport/in the chapel shot.
Jon’s misogynistic dickwad of a dad, played ingeniously by Tony Danza, also shows us what Jon is at risk of becoming if he doesn’t wake the fuck up—a middle-aged brute drooling over a bikini-clad woman in a fish sandwich ad ironically emblazoned with the words “More Than Just Meat.”
The film took on a lot. JGL wrote it, directed it and starred in it, which is impressive on its own. It asked us to reevaluate the way we look at women, the way we look at sex, the way we look at relationships and, yes, at porn. It also asks us why.
This is a pretty ambitious goal, and JGL not only managed to do it, but to do it with humor and edge, and with at least a few likeable characters Gordon-Levitt also managed to make Johansson look super trashy, which was really only possible by making her chomp gum the entire time. Moore delivered some border-line cheesy dialogue at the end, but other than that, it was poignant, funny, raunchy and real.