Lucky for me, I got the chance to see the new Joseph Gordon-Levitt film, Don Jon a week early. Wow, what an experience. Firstly, let me paint a picture of the audience. For reasons unbeknownst to me, probably 80% of the moviegoers were 40 and older. WHY hardly any young people like myself did not jump at the chance to see a movie written, directed, and starring JGL is something I cannot fathom. Regardless, the studio rep, noting the old fogeys, made a disclaimer statement before the film started warning of graphic phrases and scenes. Don Jon did not disappoint.
The film is an edgy, and might I add REAL, portrayal of love, sex, and relationships a la Generation Y. In other words, sex comes before love and supersedes all other relationships. But the movie questions whether real love can ever be attained in our generation of me, me, me. Enter PORN. Between graphic porn and probably 100 uses of the almighty “F Word”, I’m surprised some of those old timers didn’t get up and revolt. But maybe they did, I was too busy watching the movie. JGL’s titular character Jon, or Johnny, is a Guido called The Don by his friends due to his sexual prowess, but nothing satiates him like porn. He lets the viewers know in the first five minutes that the only things he cares about in life are his body, his friends, his family, his church, his pad, his girls, his ride, and his porn. He watches it and gets off to it up to 10 times a day, even though he gets action almost every night. Until he meets Barbara Sugarman, a “dime” who won’t give it up without the promise of a real relationship (she also obnoxiously smacks her gum throughout the whole movie…the anal retentive, BEWARE). So Don Jon plays by her rules and enters in for “the long drive”, meeting the parents and friends, watching sappy love stories (look out for fabulous cameos there!), and taking night classes.
Enter Julianne Moore, his hippy fellow student with a secret she’s not yet ready to share. She is nosy and perceptive and annoys the crap out of him, until they finally become friends. She uses her extra years of knowledge to teach him what he is doing wrong in his relationship with Barbara and why he has so much trouble losing himself in real sex.
Overall, the movie is quite touching. It’s hilarious and sometimes abrasive, and if you are offended by f-bombs and/or porn, seriously stay away because you will not be able to sit through the movie. But for the rest of us who are not f-bomb virgins and understand that porn is a multi-billion dollar industry and thus a very large part of many people’s lives, the movie is a gem. It’s not wonder it was so well received at Sundance and SXSW. I wish I could go further into what makes this movie so wonderful, but I don’t want to give away more of the plot and ruin the magic. Just trust me on this. Go watch it and see if you don’t walk away feeling oddly better about life. Whether you’ve screwed up in past relationships, have been screwed, or are still waiting for a meaningful partner, the movie has something to say to make you feel better. None of us are perfect, but the magic of humankind is our ability to lose ourselves in others…and in movies.