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Non Con Don Jon – a Review of Don Jon
Title: Don Jon
Production Company: Relativity Media
Run Time: 90 minutes
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly
Summary: Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut is a marvelous take on relationships and the narcissistic behavior that unravels even the seemingly ideal pairings that are perhaps together for all the wrong reasons.
Love and sex are not mutually exclusive, but it’s interesting to watch a seemingly perfect couple disintegrate before our eyes based on the unrealistic ideals they place upon each other.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the title character in this cynical look at love and relationships. Don’t get me wrong, though. This movie is top notch and the acting and directing vastly transcend the superficial feel that the characters manage to embody.
Jon is a physically fit young stud who loves his life, his possessions and his family. He has a strong relationship with his religion but his biggest albatross is his love of adult cinema. Every Sunday, his confession includes a roster of the number of times he relieved himself while watching the latest “masterpiece” of cinematic copulation.
Of course he has no troubles meeting real women either. As he puts it, though, no woman can come close to comparing with the ones he visually embraces on his computer screen. Like Pavlov’s dog, he practically has a physical reaction just as he turns on his computer and hears the familiar chime indicating the start of his latest sexual fantasy brought to life.
Scarlett Johansson plays Barbara, a stunningly beautiful woman he meets at a local hotspot. It’s no surprise that the two will get together for a date and that she will eventually end up in his bed.
Barbara is shallowly narcissistic in her own right, though. To her, sex is about romance, like the beautiful romantic movies she loves to watch on the big screen. Even though their views about love are vastly different, Barbara and Jon believe that the interludes they share will eventually create the “love” that each dream about.
For her, she thinks her life will be perfect when she meets the ideal stud who will sweep her off her feet. In her world, there is no such thing as housework. When Jon tries to buy cleaning products at the local superstore, she berates him. To her, she would rather hire a maid than, heaven forbid, do anything around the house for herself.
For Jon, though, even the most perfect body will never compare to the things he can watch on the internet. After all, with a body like Barbara’s for instance, he knows that she will never have to do the things they do in adult movies to win the “heart” of a guy.
Which is why the character played by Julianne Moore is so refreshing in this stylistic world occupied by the title character. She presents a less artificial view of love and sex. And it’s not something that Jon (or Barbara, for that matter) could even possibly envision on their own.
Don Jon isn’t so much about love as it is about the cookie cutter beliefs that we place on relationships. Nothing is ideal but in a true relationship, men and women need to share feelings and thoughts with one another or else any relationship is purely a physical one.
Perhaps that truth is best mirrored by Jon’s parents who have an eerily similar relationship to the one he and Barbara have.
Angela (Glenne Headly) still believes her son will meet the perfect woman and settle down and give her grandkids. Jon Sr. (Tony Danza), on the other hand, revels in TV sports and pines for the glory of the latest playback. For them, the ideal relationship has long since deteriorated, yet they stay together for reasons about which we can only speculate.
Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote the screenplay, has managed to put a new spin on this age old issue about the differences between the sexes. And maybe, in the end, this is a film that everyone needs to see, despite the discomfort some may feel about the subject matter. I give Don Jon 4 out of 5 stars.