"There's only really a few things I care about: my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls and my porn."
The title character of Don Jon is addicted to Internet pornography.
Consequently, his sexual exploits with beautiful women leave him feeling empty and dissatisfied. He targets them with the sole purpose of trying to satisfy his own libido. There is no love, no connection, just empty feelings of "pleasure." Barbara, "a dime," is not like the other women that throw themselves on Don Jon. She plays hard to get.
"You like movies?" Barbara asks. Even if he doesn't he watches with the hope that after the date night (that always seems to consist of romance movie binge-watching) he can pounce. Barbara, too, is addicted to the ideal formula of romance - as presented by Hollywood films.
She doesn't clean her house and, is baffled and appalled when Jon tells her he does. However, the real deal breaker comes when she finds Jon watching dirty movies.
In some respects Barbara and Jon are the perfect couple (she's beautiful and he needs that; he fulfills her fantasy of the photo-perfect couple). In other respects they are each other's kryptonite - both have set unrealistic standards (fed by their addictions) that neither can meet.
And when these two characters finally confront each other's addictions, Don Jon becomes a surprisingly wise and very funny full-length directorial debut from long-time Hollywood star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His film sees through the hollowness of our materialism that is galvanised by today's fashionable forms of media (porn, romance movies, social media, TV commercials and even NFL football). He portrays selfishness as the driving force propelling these forms of media. Gordon-Levitt may not be very refined as a director but he offers up enough well executed stylistic choices (such as a heavenly beam of light that shines on Barbara's face reminiscent of Madeleine in Hitchcock's Vertigo) to keep the visuals from falling into banality and the story from feeling trite.
To view the Don Jon trailer, use the free Layar app As a writer he shows promise - his film offers great exchanges between Barbara and Jon as they confront each other's problems, although the storytelling structure does eventually become tedious over a 90-minute time frame.
Ass an actor, Gordon-Levitt is wonderful in this title role. He has great comic timing. But in my mind his greatest achievement is that he sees the inanity of obsessions and the origins of these predicaments - the different forms of media that we consume.
© Copyright 2013