Joseph Gordon-Levitt writes, directs and stars in this film about porn addiction. With such a weighty issue it would be easy to assume that this is a drama, or at least a dramedy but Levitt decides to approach the matter lightheartedly – flippantly even. It is interesting to note that, while the audience for the film was mixed between all ages and genders the laughs were mostly coming from the deeper-voiced testosterone fuelled section of the audience.
While pretending to address deep-rooted issues in modern society Don Jon is really divided between being a social satire and a sermon. The moralising addiction story is secondary to the slick jump cuts and systematic humour set-pieces. As such, with these two elements interfering with each other, the film does neither very well. The film is populated with one-dimensional mannequins. Every character is ultimately repulsive, be it the hysterical grand-child hungry mother or Jon himself (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), these characters have been plucked from a book of stereotypes and left there to interact entirely as one would predict. Jon’s transition into being able to form relationships involve two women, the first is a classic “hot-and-I know-it” kind of girl (Scarlett Johansson) who places unreasonable demands on our protagonist, as corroborated by his misogynistic cronies. This in a way, seems perfect, the two most unpleasant people you could imagine have found each other and are in perfect sync. However, when Jon turns to Esther (Julianne Moore), a troubled older woman with a tragic past and wisdom to impart in a cringe-worthy manner, the choice is not at all credible. A man who has spent his whole life rating girls out of ten and refusing anything below an eight would not be seen dead with a woman who cries in public and is twice his age. The character arc just is not strong enough to support such a decision. It makes the film seem trite and sickly sweet.
On top of all of this, the film is sexist in so many ways. The men are famished hounds never considering women as anything more than a way of gaining sex and boosting their egos. Conversely the women are shown as universally frigid and conservative lovers and a barrier to male pleasure. Even with the context of humour it’s hard to not to see the harmful stereotypes; particularly when the “hopeful” conclusion presents Esther as some magical exception, rather than showing a genuine change in Jon’s attitude to women as a whole.
- Entertainment: 4/5
- Artistic: 2/5
- Intellectual: 0/5