Don Jon

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Don Jon
Against a grey background, three squares with the faces of a smiling young man, and red-haired woman, and shown horizontally the face of a blonde woman.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Produced by
Starring
Music by Nathan Johnson
Cinematography Thomas Kloss
Editing by Lauren Zuckerman
Studio
Distributed by Relativity Media[1]
Release dates
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18) (Sundance)
  • September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27) (United States)
Running time 90 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6 million[3]
Box office $30,450,756[3]

Don Jon is a 2013 American romantic comedy-drama film[4] written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Produced by Ram Bergman and Nicolas Chartier, the film stars Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore, with Rob Brown, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson and Tony Danza in supporting roles. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013,[5] and had its wide release in the United States on September 27, 2013.[3]

Plot[edit]

Italian American Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a modern day Don Juan, with a short list of things he cares about: "my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn". He has an active sex life, but is more satisfied by masturbating to pornography.

On a night out with his two best friends, Bobby and Danny (Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke), at the bar, he and his friends begin to scope out women depending on their "hotness level on a ten scale". During the hunt, Jon sees Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson), and while Bobby is also attracted, Danny scoffs at this choice. Bobby dares him to go talk to her, and although she finds him interesting, he fails to pick her up for a one-night stand. He finds her on Facebook, and asks her to lunch. The attraction is mutual, but Barbara insists on a traditional long-term courtship, which proceeds for over a month without sex. She encourages him to take night classes to get an office job outside the service industry, and Jon indulges her love for romance movies, which he usually dismisses as unrealistic fantasy. They meet each other's families, and Jon's parents (Tony Danza and Glenne Headly) immediately love her. His mother likes her for being so nice to her, and his father can't believe that he was able to pick up a girl as beautiful as she was.

Finally, the two have sex, but Jon is still dissatisfied. He admits the sex was decent and her body was perfect, but still felt something was missing. He gets up, while Barbara sleeps, to watch pornography. Barbara catches him and is shocked that he would do such a thing. Jon denies that he watches pornography and claims it was a sick joke emailed to him by a friend.

Their relationship resumes, with Jon continuing to watch pornography, but doing so primarily outside his apartment, where Barbara is often around. He is caught watching a video on his cell phone before a class by Esther (Julianne Moore), a middle-aged woman who attempts to apologize for an earlier awkward incident in which Jon encountered her weeping by herself at the college. Jon politely brushes her off. Barbara continues to assert control over him, insisting that cleaning his own apartment—a task Jon finds personally satisfying—is not manly. One night she looks at the browser history on his computer, confronts him with proof that he has been continuing to compulsively watch pornography. He tries to make an excuse when he compares his interest in porn is the same as her interest in those romantic comedy movies she enjoys so much. Disgusted, Barbara ends their relationship.

Jon tries to return to his old lifestyle, but it's not the same. Jon explains to Bobby that Barbara dumped him because of him watching porn, and Bobby can't believe that was enough to turn her off with Jon agreeing. Esther continues to reach out to Jon, trying to offer him the benefit of her experience. She reveals to Jon that the reason why he doesn't seem to have the same fun he has watching pornography while having sex, is because pornography is a one-sided affair, and if he wants to have sex that's better than pornography, he has to be willing to lose himself to another person, and she has to be willing to lose herself to him, calling it "a two-way street". She lends him an erotic video that she believes has a more realistic depiction of sexual relations. He responds by initiating a sexual encounter in her parked car. She persuades him to try masturbating without pornography, but he is unable to. She invites him to her home, where she reveals that her husband and son had died in a car crash 14 months before. She counsels him further about the need for sex to be a mutual experience, and with her, Jon finally has an emotional connection sex that doesn't leave him restless to watch pornography.

Jon's weekly confessional tallying his one-night stands and pornography sessions is replaced by one in which he proudly reports abstinence from pornography and just the one instance of fornication, which he describes as being more like making love. He tells his parents about the break-up with Barbara, and they are not happy about it. His father is disappointed with him for letting her easily slip away from him, and his mother is devastated because she thought she was going to become a grandmother. His sister breaks her silence, saying that Barbara never cared about Jon, and just wanted someone to boss around, and says that it's good that they broke up.

Jon asks to meet with Barbara and apologizes for lying to her about the pornography. Barbara says she asked one thing of him, and he failed. Jon replies she asked many things of him, and just couldn't keep up with her expectations. She says goodbye, and tells him to never contact her again.

Jon takes Esther as his girlfriend, and even though neither has any interest in getting married anytime soon, and denies he is in love, but believes he really understands her and they can get emotionally lost in each other.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development for Don Jon began in 2008, when Gordon-Levitt wrote early notes about the film. Rian Johnson gave feedback during the writing process, and reviewed several cuts of the film. Christopher Nolan cautioned against both directing and starring in the film due to the extra challenges it would bring.[6]

Gordon-Levitt has credited his experience directing short films for HitRecord for teaching him what he needed to know to make Don Jon, and has said that he hopes to make films in a more collaborative way in the future.[7]

Principal photography for Don Jon began in May 2012.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an 81% approval rating, based on reviews from 172 critics, with an average rating of 6.9 out of 10. The site's consensus states: "Don Jon proves to be an amiable directing debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a vivacious showcase for his co-star, Scarlett Johansson".[8] Metacritic gives a score of 66 out of 100 based on reviews from 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[9]

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore on the opening weekend, gave Don Jon a C+ grade.[10][11]

Don Jon received very positive reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. Entertainment Weekly managing editor Jess Cagle called the film "one of the best movies I saw at the fest" and wrote, "Funny, touching, smart, and supremely confident, Don Jon is also Gordon-Levitt's feature directorial debut, and it establishes him as one of Hollywood's most exciting new directors."[12] William Goss of Film.com praises Levitt for his "assured style" as both director and screenwriter.[13] Edward Douglas of ComingSoon.net gave high praise to the screenplay.[14] Consensus of the film when it was played at the Sundance Film Festival, as noted by Odie Henderson, was that Don Jon was a "more fun version" of the 2011 film Shame.[15]

Julianne Moore received praise for her performance.[16][17] Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice praised the film, writing: "There's no dancing in Gordon-Levitt's writing-directing debut, Don Jon, although the movie is so heavily reminiscent—in the good way—of Saturday Night Fever that an arm-swinging paint-can reverie wouldn't be out of place."[18]

Box office[edit]

Don Jon grossed US$24,477,704 in North America and US$5,973,052 internationally, for a total worldwide gross of US$30,450,756.[3]

Rating[edit]

Don Jon is rated R16 in New Zealand for drug use, sex scenes, and offensive language.[citation needed] In the United States, the film was originally set to be NC-17, due to the graphic footage of the porn that Jon watches in the movie. Gordon-Levitt decided to cut some of the scenes out to give it an "R" rating, because he felt the original rating would give people the wrong idea—that the movie was completely about porn.[citation needed][19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fleming, Jr., Mike (January 21, 2013). "Sundance Deal Precedent: Relativity Media Pact For Joseph Gordon-Levitt-Helmed Comedy ‘Don Jon: $4 Mill Upfront, $25 Million P&A For Summer Release". Deadline.com. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ "DON JON (18)". British Board of Film Classification. July 26, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Don Jon (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  4. ^ The Independent
  5. ^ Miller, Daniel (December 3, 2012). "Sundance 2013: Festival Unveils 2 Star-Studded Noncompetition Categories". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  6. ^ Rosen, Christopher (March 13, 2013). "Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 'Don Jon' Star, On The Advice He Didn't Take From Christopher Nolan". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ Gordon-Levitt, Joseph. "hitRECordJoe, EXCITING NEWS! :oD I am super stoked to announce...". Tumblr. Yahoo!. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Don Jon". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster/Warner Bros. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Don Jon". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  10. ^ Deadline.com
  11. ^ Moviefone.com
  12. ^ Cagle, Jess (February 8, 2013). "Editor's Note: Nice Work". Entertainment Weekly. New York: Time Inc. p. 4. Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  13. ^ William Goss (January 24, 2013). "Sundance Review: ‘Don Jon’s Addiction’". Film.com. 
  14. ^ Edward Douglas (March 2013). "SXSW Review: Don Jon". 
  15. ^ Rogerebert.com
  16. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (January 21, 2013). "'Don Jon's Addiction' Review". ScreenCrush. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  17. ^ Chase Whale (January 19, 2013). "Sundance 2013 Review: DON JON'S ADDICTION Bulks Up the Body and Career of Joseph Gordon-Levitt". "Moore is a marvelous actress and this role is just another reason to love her." 
  18. ^ "Joseph Gordon-Levitt Triumphs Over Online Porn in Don Jon". The Village Voice, September 25, 2013. Retrieved on September 27, 2013.
  19. ^ "IMDb". 

External links[edit]