The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Don Jon: dark and funny about porn addiction

with 12 comments

don jonJon is a young man who is very pleased with himself. And why not?  He’s got a nice apartment, a nice car and a nice body with which he can attract any pretty girl he wants at the night club. He makes frequent use of the last talent, and if there ever is any questionable in the way he treats women, he deals with it by confessing his sins at church once a week.

He would appear like a pretty normal young man, if it wasn’t for one little thing: Jon consumes porn – in a big way. It’s not just that he masturbates to it once in a while as many men do. He’s completely obsessed with it. It has taken over his sex life so that he actually prefers to jerk off in front of a screen to having sex with a real woman, regardless of who she is or how she looks. She may be Miss Universe for all that matter – he doesn’t care, since he’s an addict.

One day Jon meets another gorgeous girl at them gym, one that requires of him to get out of his addiction. This becomes the starting point of a journey, which turns out to have a lot of bumps in the road. Beating this habit is easier said than done. And for all her good looks, is this girl really his one true love?

Dark and funny
This is the setup for Don Jon. If you think it sounds like a dark topic for a movie you’re right. It is sad, and at times it’s also touching and even tear-provoking, especially in the later part of the movie where Jon gets to know an older woman, Julianne Moore. She looks nothing like the girls in the porn, but she’s a real, living person, and she has an aura around her that cuts right through the screen an also, against all odds, starts to attract and transform Jon.

But as much – or even more – than it is a drama, it’s also a comedy. The poster claims it’s “hilarious”, which I think is to pull it too far. But it had quite a few funny moments and I laughed accordingly. 50/50 was a funny movie about cancer and Silver Linings Playbook showed mental illness with a glimpse of humour. Don Jon does the same thing to porn addiction.

Far from being preachy, it has a down-to-Earth approach to the topic. It doesn’t claim that porn is the worst thing that ever happened to mankind, but on the other hand, it makes it clear that it never can replace “the real thing”. The one who suffers most from overconsumption of porn is neither the porn actresses, nor the girlfriend whose partner jerks off in secrecy when she’s not around. The biggest victim is the addict, who gets an empty, second rate experience, disconnected from himself as much as from the rest of the world.

Once again I disagree with the poster, calling it “edgy”. It takes more edge than that to shock me. But I suppose there might be a few viewers out there who may take offense by it for not being entirely politically correct, for blending religion into the mix and for all the explicit sex scenes and the frequent use of the f-word (more than 120 times).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn’t only play the leading role; he has also written the script and directed the movie. I think his debut holds a lot of promise and if he decides to go on with a career not only appearing in movies, but also making them, I’ll be in line to watch them.

Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, US 2013 My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

January 14, 2014 at 1:00 am

Posted in Don Jon

12 Responses

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  1. Excellent Jessica! We seem to be spot on with our thoughts once more, my sister from the north 😉 Great little film that promises a good writing and directing career ahead. Some people picked a lot of holes on the film but I was thoroughly impressed, as you know.

    Mark Walker

    January 14, 2014 at 2:08 am

    • High five if I may say so! I watched it with some other Swedish film bloggers and was very surprised when several of them didn’t care for it at all. I was entertained as well as a bit touched, especially by Julianne Moore.

      Jessica

      January 14, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      • High five, indeed! 😉
        Yeah, I enjoyed Moore too, but again, a lot of people seemed to think she was underwritten. I thought she worked very well within the story in terms of showing a genuine female character that wasn’t downtrodden or shallow as say, Johanssen or Glenne Headly were.

        Mark Walker

        January 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm

        • I also loved that she appeared to be several years older than him. How often do you see that in movies? You always see younger women being with men who are older, but almost never the opposite. The fact that she had been through some stuff in her life made her a much more real person than the ones he had been dating. And with the realness she also became more attractive, even if she didn’t have the looks of a model.

          Jessica

          January 14, 2014 at 9:54 pm

          • Absolutely! And that’s where Jon’s attraction came from. Yet more criticism came from some viewers that they lacked chemistry. I didn’t see it that way. It thought it was more tangible.

            Mark Walker

            January 14, 2014 at 9:57 pm

  2. Great post, Jessica. I didn’t like this film, though. Thought the writing was terrible and couldn’t care for the characters.

    fernandorafael

    January 14, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    • Thanks Fernando! We can’t agree about every movie. (Fortunately we don’t otherwise we wouldn’t have a lot to discuss.)

      Jessica

      January 14, 2014 at 9:31 pm

  3. Agreement all around! Not “best movie ever” but funny with enough of a sting to make it interesting. And I am once more reminded of how (in some ways) Jordan Belfort and his crew were just Jon and his boys with (much) more money…

    Sofia

    January 15, 2014 at 10:08 am

  4. Very interesting read. Don Jon is the film that surely, once and for all, sells Joseph Gordon Levitt’s all-round talent to the world. The fact he appears to be a really nice, switched on guy in real life helps too. There’s plenty more to come from Levitt.

    Dan

    January 17, 2014 at 12:28 am

    • Definitely! He seems sympathetic and full of ideas, so I hope he’ll be successful.

      Jessica

      January 22, 2014 at 10:30 pm

  5. […] Don Jon Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s debut as a director  holds a lot of promise and if he decides to go on with a career not only appearing in movies, but also making them, I’ll be in line to watch them. […]


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