Natalie Kfoury – Co-Editor-in-Chief
His body. His pad. His ride. His family. His church. His boys. His girls. And, his porn. From the very start, viewers of “Don Jon,” written by, directed by, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, know what to expect from Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt).
He is your typical romantic comedy lead male: attractive, funny, and likable, except he has a severe addiction to pornography. As amusing as the subject may be, the film finds success in portraying the addiction as real, powerful, and thought provoking.
Jon spends his days as a bartender or with his family at church, and his nights with his boys, succeeding in bringing home beautiful women. Any free time is spent watching hours of pornography. Regardless of whom he takes home at the end of the night, no woman can replace the x-rated actresses in his heart, and he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with that.
Jon thinks little of his addiction until he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Though he loves and respects Barbara, she cannot compete with the way pornography makes him feel. He slips back into old habits and slowly realizes that Barbara has a destructive addiction of her own, one to romantic film and their portrayal of true love, and what she considers to be the ideal man.
It is not until his problems with Barbara come to a head that Jon realizes something could be wrong. Even still, it takes the help of Ester (Julianne Moore), a woman fighting her own demons he develops a bond with, to face his problem.
The strength of the movie comes from its statements on society through the addictions and problems the characters face. While Barbara’s addiction to romantic movies may be more socially acceptable than Jon’s to pornography, the viewer is quickly able to see how destructive her obsession is on her belief of true love and how destructive Jon’s unrealistic expectations are on real women.
The acting in “Don Jon” is incredibly powerful. Both Gordon-Levitt and Johansson typically portray characters that are easily lovable, such as Gordon-Levitt’s role in “The Dark Knight Rises” and “500 Days of Summer” and Johansson’s work in “Lost in Translation” and “The Avengers.” It is a reminder of their strength when portraying deeply flawed characters. Likewise, Tony Danza and Glenne Headly portray Jon’s parents and add superb humorous scenes, which help elevate the film.
“Don Jon” is a strong addition to Gordon-Levitt’s quickly growing resume and a successful first shot at writing and directing. The film succeeds in being both comedic and fun, with many opportunities to laugh and appreciate the clever film work, yet is best in its compelling and powerful nature. “Don Jon” is a story about addition, but, more importantly, it’s a story about healing.