Leon van Nierop
2 minute read
10 Jan 2014
7:00 am

Movie Review: Don Jon

Leon van Nierop

He grew up right in front of our eyes. Young, handsome Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the chatterbox alien who bit off more than he could chew in Third Rock From The Sun on television.

Jason Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson in a scene from Don Jon.

Nobody expected this confused, crazy kid to grow up into an actor of note, let alone a competent director and scriptwriter. Never judge a book by its cover.

This Don Juan (or rather Don Jon) of sorts seems to have everything. Jon (Gordon-Levitt) is a good, church-going New Jersey boy, has a loving family, great friends, can manage on his income and has the most stunning girlfriend this side of a centre spread (played by Scarlett Johansson who has never looked more beautiful or sexy). But he has one serious problem. He is addicted to Internet pornography.

A scene from Don Jon.

A scene from Don Jon.

So how come the real thing in the shapely form of Miss Johansson cannot satisfy his needs? She talks back, has issues, is often not in the mood, has to be romanced, has to be understood and managed and doesn’t like competition.

With so much easy access to Internet porn, Jon simply clicks on various sites, watches, and satisfies himself without having to speak or taking others’ feelings into consideration. And he doesn’t even have to look his best. It’s a quick, uncomplicated solution to raging hormones.

This concept could have turned into just another awkward dirty teen movie for the raincoat and zit brigade. But in the wise, sensitive hands of Gordon-Levitt it takes on a charming, sophisticated life that will resonate with many youngsters.

He carefully balances the protagonist’s porn-addiction with the consequences of those actions and he spices it up with the young man’s desperate attempts to be accepted by society, find forgiveness in the church and have enough sex to last a lifetime.

Jon’s problem is that he can’t seem to get aroused away from his computer screen, and also cannot communicate, let alone function on an emotional level. There is too much easy sex to fast forward to – why bother with emotions, commitment or, love?

Gordon-Levitt shows restraint and a dark, wicked sense of humour as the young man who negotiates his way through the minefield of relationships, moodiness, uncensored images, ecstatic sounds and friendships. It is a thought-provoking, carefully scripted and insightful exploration of addiction and attempting to find a cure. The film is funny, often mesmerising and charming.