A Night with Don Jon
I had the opportunity to attend an advance screening of Don Jon last night, and it did not disappoint. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut is, akin to the women Jon Martello pulls, a 10. With a runtime of 90 minutes, the writing is both edgy and tight, while still conveying a fervent story. Did I mention that Gordon-Levitt also wrote and starred in this flick? Seriously impressive.
On the surface, the film is a lively semi-dark comedy about a New Jersey Italian guy living his life, with a copious amount of vulgar moments thrown in for good measure. Being a New Jersey native myself, I felt right at home watching Don Jon. His Italian-American parents Jon Sr. and Angela (Tony Danza and Glenne Headly, respectively) are wonderfully outspoken, in direct contrast with his sister Monica (Brie Larson) who is decidedly over it when it comes to her parents’ boisterousness. Sunday dinners at the Martello household smack of authenticity with football blaring on the television, pasta, and plenty of yelling.
Gordon-Levitt’s Jon is a tough guy who has it all. He has his basic loves in life – his family, his church, his body, his (numerous) women, and at the center of it all, his porn. He finds himself completely adrift in the chimera of porn; nothing back on Earth, even actual sex with real women can compare. Jon actively struggles with Catholic guilt in regards to his wild amount of porn-related consumption, and we see how it devours his everyday life. It’s funny and shocking at first, but when he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), things really come into perspective. She was raised on Old Hollywood romantic movies, and we see her romantic fantasy ideal clash with Jon’s equally absurd porno ideal. Romantic movies are her version of pornography, and these extreme pedestals of reality create discernible tension between the pair.
While taking a night class, Jon meets Esther (Julianne Moore), a candid woman who points out how outrageous his porn obsession is when she publicly catches glimpse of it on his phone. He is understandably defensive, but they forge a meaningful friendship. It’s really fun to watch them interact on screen, as Moore is a fantastic foil to the unduly macho Gordon-Levitt.
Without revealing too much, Don Jon is a truly enjoyable movie with a satisfying conclusion. It’s avant-garde and honest, and you won’t want to miss it– catch the trailer here. Don Jon hits cinemas on September 27th!