Monday, March 18, 2013


Don Jon
(formerly known as Don Jon's Addiction)

Written & Directed
Joseph Gordon-Levitt

     The first film for the South by Southwest Festival that I have been able to see is Don Jon's Addiction, written, directed and starring Joseph Gordon Levitt. Apparently now being titled just Don Jon, OK. The film follows the everyday routines and actvities of Jon Martello. He is called Don Jon, similar to a Don Juan-type figure, by his friends since he can consistently pick up "tens" at the club but his real situation is an insatiable, obsessive addiction to pornography. He meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) and wants to subside his selfish inclinations by falling in love with the beautiful woman, but cannot achieve any level of satisfaction. The film charts Jon's growth and maturation with comedic punch and wit, but ultimately feels redundant and goes in a direction that should more gratifying than its attentions are set to be.
     Jon's addiction to porn is consistent with who he is. Jon is a self-absorbed, stereotypical Guido from New Jersey who objectifies everything from his apartment to his car. But he objectifies woman, real and cyber, above all. He can hook up with any woman he wants but does not have the control he has when with his Internet porn. He does not have to worry about feelings, boring sex and lack of exploration. Porn supplies his life with a limitless amount cravings and substantiates all his desires and needs. The addiction of Jon and his objectification of woman exemplify a societal trend of the "me first" generation. Whatever makes me satisfied, happy, content and puts the person in an uncultured state of popularity seems to be Jon's life. His way.
     The film is Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut and shows his talent and charisma with the pen and behind the camera. First off, this film, especially in the family dinner scenes and the safer R, to avoid NC-17, rated masturbation areas are laugh-out loud hilarious. The jokes are not silly mainstream film funny, but honest depictions of the everyday life of this New Jersey boy. He rides in his muscle car, yelling obscenities at cars driving in front of him than cuts to Jon walking into church and confessing his sins. Funny material, handled with a wonderful comedic touch. Who knew Gordon-Levitt had it in him. Not only to be seriously funny but he shows his great range as an actor to play an unlikable, self-absorbed guy. Gordon-Levitt is a growing artist and with his subtle Jersey accent and the disciplined selfish, comedic lifestyle shows the growth of this artist. His comedic timing and relevance is impeccable.
     Secondly, he shows a talent for use of sound and sound editing. The powering on of his laptop signifies that Jon is about to satisfy his craving. During some of these scenes where he has already been with a woman, he wakes up and masturbates to porn while his female companion is still asleep in his bed. To Jon, there is nothing like porn. These are also situations where Gordon-Levitt puts his main character in less than gentleman-like scenarios. Scenes at the club where his objectifications are less than desirable and make me wonder why woman would ever want to date or hook up with someone like this. These were areas where the film also excelled.
     Gordon-Levitt has compiled a great cast for his first directorial effort. Scarlett Johansson is perfect as the main love interest for Jon, Barbara. She is selfish, if not more than Jon himself. She withholds sex from Jon and ulitmately wants a man that she can completely control. In one scene where the two are shopping for curtains or drapes, Jon wants to go buy some cleaning supplies but she states that he does not need to do that. She is telling him he does not need to clean his own apartment. She, as well as Jon, are living in worlds that are saturated with media culture. Jon with his porn crutch that causes him to want more out of sex and a relationship then is deemed normal or possible for that matter and Barbara, who in an earlier scene at the movies, believes in the fantasy, formulaic nonsense of Hollywood produced romantic comedies. It is an interesting parallel of media saturation and nonexistent individualistic, rational thinking.
     The undeniable standout of the film, and I am honestly saying this not out of disrespect but just because I have not seen him anything in forever, is Tony Danza. He is funny and unapologetic in that blunt, humorous way. He is great and well worth watching the film just for his performance. Also, Julianne Moore is wonderful as a woman that meets Jon while they are both taking classes in college. She, as always, hits every note perfectly and brings so much humanity and heart to the film.
     The film works on the comedic and stagnant state of selfish human beings in this over cyber saturated society, but the film stalls after the midway point. This is not to say it is not an entertaining or thought provoking film but we continually see redundant shots of Jon at the gym, church, porn and dinner that bog the film down. I believe this repetition shows Jon's disciplined nature but just needed a punch of something new or another character to smooth out film. The film is funny without a doubt though.
     Don Jon shows the mechanical and fractured ideas of romance that society accepts and desires to replicate in every day life. The film, although not a complete knockout, contains wonderful performances and a great use of sound. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has proven with his first directorial effort that he not only is an extremely talented actor but has the ability to tell a good story with a good control for directing.

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