Frequent masturbation and addiction to internet pornography are the subjects Joseph Gordon-Levitt chooses to tackle with his 2013 directorial debut: Don Jon. In pursuit of doing so, JGL assumes the role of this New Jersey guy who seems to have a reasonably firm hold on life: he’s in excellent shape, manages to hook up with beautiful women on a regular basis, he’s got a couple of close friends to chase said women with and, to top it off, he’s got this gorgeous ’72 Chevrolet Chevelle from which he (rightly, no doubt) shouts obscenities at other drivers in vastly inferior vehicles. So it seems he’s doing alright then. If only it weren’t for the fact that he sometimes pleasures himself up to thirty-nine times a week. That seems like it might be too much of a good thing.
JGL’s persona and trashy (can I say that?) accent are a little jarring at first, but you get used to it pretty quickly and I think it’s a good choice for him to create a little bit of distance from the usual well-dressed, well-read and JGL of impeccable taste we’re familiar with from movies like Brick, Inception and 500 days of summer. Scarlett Johansson is equally effective in her portrayal of the extremely sexy, though slightly trashy, character that might be the answer to JGL’s problem (you’d almost forget this is the same woman that once starred in Lost in Translation). Sadly, even her spectacular curves can’t satisfy JGL’s insatiable appetite for his very particular view of what sex should be like and Johansson cuts JGL loose after catching on to the fact he often supplements their sexual acts with the ones performed by strangers on video. Don Jon‘s pretty smart about this breakup not being the (sole) reason for JGL’s acceptance of the fact he might have a problem, that’s resolved later on, when he meets Julianne Moore. Prior to that however, the film illustrates that Johansson’s expectations of her partner are perhaps even more unrealistic and grievous a transgression than JGL’s wrongdoings in a scene that appeared, to me at least, strikingly familiar. Granted, this film is directed by a guy, so it’s possible there’s a bit a bias there. But I appreciated it all the same.
Perhaps then, the film is not so much about porn addiction as it is about modern day media creating a somewhat twisted view of what men should be to women and vice versa. I’m not sure whether it succeeds in sharing any earth shattering revelations on that matter, but it does serve as good illustration (through a couple of excellent casting decisions and a subtle change in direction/style towards the end of the film) of how beauty, in a broader sense of the word so that it also includes the truly erotic, trumps sexy every single time.