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Review: ‘Don Jon’

A Guido Redefines His Sexuality

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial quasi-debut opened September 27 throughout San Diego. It's about love, sex, and porn. (You probably shouldn't read this at work.)

See the trailer here.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt shows off his physique and face warping skills as Don Jon in "Don Jon."

Joseph Gordon-Levitt presents the impact of media on sexuality. He does so by portraying the fictional and oddly poetic Don Jon, an overconfident guido who has an affinity for hot girls and an addiction to those who star in pornographic films.

This is not a first date type of movie.

Gordon-Levitt's character, Don Jon, explicitly outlines his pornographic preferences. He details how he likes to "get going" after the familiar Mac start-up noise gets him hard. The use of this single tone is an example of how clever the film is composed. The editing style is unique and consistently hits with perfect timing; every time I hear this noise I can't help but laugh at what it signifies to Don Jon, and the quick cuts in which it is used throughout. The use of sound in this film sets it apart from others.

"Don Jon" is very forward -- another first date no-no. (Okay really, it's not a date movie at all. Some message board users say this post-movie discussion may put your relationship on the brink.) As Don lays out his preferred fornication techniques, they are slammed in our faces from various porn clips. Boobs. Butts. Lips. (Other things that must be redacted so I don't lose my writing privileges.) Everything short of being x-rated is here. All to show with clear view how screens impact us.

Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) looking less than enthused alongside a very involved Barbara (Scarlett Johansson).

Don compares his media habits to those of his newly found, super-hot, and manipulative girlfriend, Barbara (played by Scarlett Johansson with a bad accent). Barbara falls hard for the gushy romantic flicks (see above), just as hard as Don gets from his viewing choices. Gordon-Levitt notes in his recent online group interview (reddit's AMA for those familiar), that the point here is to display how strongly we can be impacted by our expectations drawn from media. Barbara expects Don to be as obedient and considerate as Channing Tatum in his crappier movies. Don expects Barbara to perform his fantasies discovered on PornHub.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Don Jon performing his favorite past time in "Don Jon."

This simple message is wrapped in an oddly feel-good flick with a happy ending (pun very much intended) that is blunt, unrefined, and poetic. Don ultimately does find a partner who lives beyond his fixed expectations, and opens up his mind to sincere, understanding love.

Gordon-Levitt says his mom loves this movie, understanding the point her son tries to make about being aware that our time spent watching screens impacts us after we turn them off. I will bet you a lot of money your mom will not love this movie.

"Don Jon" is rated R for strong graphic sexual material and dialogue throughout, nudity, language and some drug use.

Companion Viewing:

For other off-beat sexual quests, check out "The Sessions," (2012) or "Transamerica" (2005).


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