Don Jon: a conquest for Gordon-Levitt
Jon Martello is a man who knows his priorities: his body, his pad, his cars, his family, his church, his girls...and his porn. Especially the porn.
Martello, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the new film, Don Jon, is a buffed-up Jersey bartender with slicked back hair and, as mentioned, a porn addiction. Despite a routine that consists of taking a different beautiful woman home from the club each weekend, Jon is never quite satisfied and prefers the glow of his computer screen to the company of real women.
He feels no need to pursue a real relationship until he encounters Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen--a clear “10,” his friends concede. Unlike the girls Jon typically beds, Barbara is not so easily seduced, forcing him to pursue her. Inevitably, the two become a serious couple. Jon, however, finds that he is still not content and is unable to give up his addiction. To complicate matters further, Barbara is also nursing her own addiction: Hollywood romances that give her a concept of love that is equally chimerical as Jon’s perception of sex.
Gordon-Levitt proves with Don Jon that he is not only a talented actor but an adept director and screenwriter with a broad future ahead of him. He manages to tackle the subject of porn, an area many writers shy away from, and its effects on people and their relationships in a light and humorous, yet raw and honest way. Leading the cast, he gives a strong, compelling, confident and funny performance as Jon, a character who in other hands may not have been likable.
Johansson is captivating as the self-serving Jersey babe stealing scenes with surprising depth. The film also stars Tony Danza and Glenne Headly, who are perfectly cast and share great chemistry as Jon’s comical, nosy, but well-meaning parents. But perhaps the best performance of all comes from Oscar nominee Julianne Moore, who plays the vulnerable, damaged and authentic older woman, Esther, whom Jon meets at a night school class Barbara makes him join in order to further his career. Watching their unlikely friendship and connection grow gives the film its real emotional depth.
Ultimately though, this film isn’t about porn. It’s about connection and separating fantasy from reality, lust from love, and yes, porn from actual sex.