It's been a while since the audiences were treated to an edgier side of Romance, and 2013's Don Jon written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt is finally a film that explores new territory even if it still follows the same traditional formula of other romance films.
Jon “Don Jon” Martello likes a few things in life, his ride, his pad, his girls, his family and his porn. That all changes when he lays eyes on Barbara Sugarman and his pursuit of her is more then just a one night stand. As Jon and Barbara's relationship begins to grow, they begin to wonder if the media and films have painted an unrealistic stereotype for relationships.
JGL was the perfect choice for the starring role as well as writer/director on this film. He carries the film, his accent a bit over the top at times and the repetitive nature of the film showing how people get caught up in a routine was flawless. Everyone is out searching for their one true love, and for Jon he thinks he finds that in Barbara. JGL's smooth and confident performance is one of the reasons this film works so well. The other is the impeccable casting job done to fill the film with minor characters to help complete the story for Jon. Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Barbara, giving off an aura of conceited beauty. This character knows she has got it going on and Scarlett portrays that in one of the finer performances of her career thus far. Her accent is near perfect as well, perhaps even better then JGL's at times and her character is very superficial, only looking for a man that will do things for her not someone she can love and care for.
The film really comes a live with the introduction of Julianne Moore in the second act. A real treat, she adds a layer of complexity to a film that was before hand all about sex and pornography. She adds in the human aspect of learning to grow as a person. She provides an escape for Jon, having recently been through a traumatic experience of her own, she is honest and open with Jon about his expectations and how they don't add up in reality. She brings out another layer in JGL's performance that brings the character full circle in a sense. His eyes become open to what making love is, instead of just having sex to claim you scored the hot chick. Moore's role in this film is not only the catalyst that changes the way Jon handles his every day life, but she also adds the emotional stability. Most of the events before her entry were purposely superficial, because Jon and Barbara really didn't know much about each other and really didn't have the same outlook on life.
Even though it follows the same formula as other romantic comedies the R-Rating sure does help Don Jon become a much more fun film. Having no restrictions on the amount of realistic profanity dropped in the course of 90 minutes and the explicit sexual scenes shown, it really is a film about expectations and realities and how men sometimes get caught up in their own world of sex and forget to try for a real relationship. It's often a parody of the Jersey Shore lifestyle, which allows for Don Jon to go a bit over board during the party scenes. It never really feels forced and adds a good balance of social commentary.
It's a film about male sexuality, male aggression and the almost impossible realities men put on finding the right woman. It's a film that should be watched by men coming into their own. As you watch Jon and his two best friends played by Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke, you can't help but feel the authenticity of the film. The three men razz one another about their preferred choice in women and it feels real and honest.
Don Jon surprised me with how much of the 90 minute run time was refreshing and exciting. To cover so much in a limited time frame is incredible. Don Jon was one of the years most thought-filled and original films, that plays the stereotypes of gender roles perfectly but tells the story from the opposite view point then many films of this nature.