Why should a film about porn addiction shows a lot of footage from real porn videos? The first ten minutes of “Don Jon”, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial and screenwriting debut, is half porn for both real porn clips inserted and many of his half naked body (and while he showed so many of his bare chest, we won’t see any of Scarlett Johansson’s bare breasts, LOL). Dynamic, interesting, young, but weakly written, “Don Jon” is too proud of being a study of a porn addict.
Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a womanizer. He has a perfectly built body, he has good looks, and he has confidence sparkling out of his charisma. But, no one except his best buddies Bobby (Rob Brown) and Danny (Jeremy Luke) knows that Jon is addicted to porn. Even if he has different women to have sex with him like every day, he can’t spend a day without watching porn (and—of course—‘pleasuring’ himself). Until he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) who, Jon admits, is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen in the world, and Jon tries to cure his addiction while at the mean time he gets acquainted with Esther (Julianne Moore), one of his classmates.
Swift editing, dynamic score, catchphrases, and vulgar scenes depicting sex intercourse; “Don Jon” is a film too light to handle such a big theme like porn addiction. And for that, I think you can’t help but comparing “Don Jon” to Steve McQueen’s “Shame”. No, no, I won’t do that. “Don Jon” is way too shallow. You can say that “Don Jon” is basically a romantic-comedy; its ‘porn-addiction’ topic is on the background to make it feels different. A search of true love? More proper, but of course addressing this film with it will significantly degrade its value.
Everything revolves only at Jon, while at the same time the script didn’t go deeper into him. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was so comfortably ‘pleasuring’ himself with his hunky torso and his porn videos, that he forgot to bring proper amount of attention the the soul of his character. Well, he mentioned a good reason of why he loves porn better than all the sex he has with his girls, but everything feels so one-sided. Everything is about him from the outside, and no sneak-peeks allowed for viewers to see the fragility of such a damaged personality from the inside.
That’s why, don’t you bother making a comparison of Jon with, say, someone in real life (or even yourself, bro!). Jon is a good portrait of a male in his 20-something age, I agree with that, and everything delivered by the film is simply an entertainment not so different from others. It is a find-your-true-love-and-your-life-will-be-complete kind of film. All the porno stuffs are just perks. Even from the package, you can tell that you just have to take this film lightly—as lightly as how you enjoy it and forget it in an hour or so.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt tried to a bit change his vocal tone, you know, to give a ‘bad boy’ feel to him but there are times he lost his charisma. I mean, Ryan Gosling only shows his naked upper body in only a scene in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” but he looks way more womanizer than Joseph. Scarlett Johansson is a nice attention-stealer both for her look and her way of delivering dialogue. She looks naughty in “Don Jon” and that’s great. But from all the cast members, I must say that it is lucky for Joseph to have an actress so qualified like Julianne Moore in his film. Yep, she did great in giving balance to this physical-beauty-centered story.
So, as conclusion, is “Don Jon” a good debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Well, I think he could give another shot in directing, but not for screenwriting. He is able to establish an entertaining film, but he has to learn more about how to arrange a balanced, layered story. “Don Jon” is good and entertaining, only if it does not give too much effort in exposing porn addiction as its big banner.
▲ Swift, entertaining, dynamic, feels so young, Julianne Moore's acting
▼ Weak 'porn-addiction' topic, centers only at Joseph Gordon-Levitt
DON JON | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2013 RATING Rated R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use RUNTIME 90 min GENRE Comedy, Drama, Romance CAST Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly WRITER Joseph Gordon-Levitt DIRECTOR Joseph Gordon-Levitt MORE INFO