Expectations, Images and Reality: Don Jon

Don Jon

Don Jon is Joseph Gordon Levitt’s writing and directorial debut. In another Joseph Gordon Levitt movie, 500 Days of Summer, there’s a scene where we watch two scenarios pan out, what the main characters expectations are and what the reality is, which serves as a wake up call for him to get his life together.

Don Jon meditates on similar themes to Summer, but in a different way. Our protagonist, Jon, rather than an LA “hipster” like Tom in Summer is a Central New Jersey “guido.” It’s a pejorative term, but I don’t know a better one. I know these guys, I see them when I go out, I went to school with them (or they went to the boy’s school equivalent of my school), and I even love some of them.

Anyway, in the first scene, Jon falls hard for Barbara (Scarlett Johannson), who fits well into his life for a while. She refuses to sleep with him immediately, demands to be introduced to his friends, encourages him to go back to school, gets along with his family etc. This is where Levitt gets tricky with the script. It looks like the only thing that’s coming between them is Jon’s porn addiction.

That and the fact that Jon is fantastically unhappy. Comparing it to Summer, Barbara is Tom and Jon is Summer. It’s not that Jon doesn’t want to be in a relationship, he’s searching for something, and connection turns out to be that thing, he just doesn’t want to be in this relationship, even if Barbara is apparently the girl of his dreams.

They break up over the porn, and Jon loses it a little bit. He because bitter and violent and after talking it out with a friend, decides to keep going to school. Then he begins relationship number two. Jon has been talking to a classmate names Esther (Julianne Moore) and they wind up having sex in her car. They argue about the porn and she points out that he’s probably addicted.

She basically shows him how to be in a real relationship, there’s no manipulation or demands, like with Barbara, but she doesn’t take his shit either. It’s a subtle difference.

My favorite moment, comes though, when he’s telling his family he broke up with Barbara, and his parents vent their disappointment very loudly. It’s only his younger sister who says,  “That girl had an agenda. She didn’t care about Jonny, or know anything about him. She just wanted someone who would do whatever she wanted. It’s good that she broke up with you.”

There’s an honest and heartbreaking scene where Jon reunites with Barbara to talk about what happened between them and apologizes for lying to her. She dismisses his apology, and he tries to talk to her about what went wrong and how her demands that he change everything about himself for her were as bad as his refusal to really connect. She dismisses this and walks away.

But Jon does start to connect, with Esther, with his sister, with his friends and with some guys at his gym.

I enjoyed the movie, even if it wasn’t anything new or special. The performances were excellent and it made me laugh a few times, and the characters definitely rang true.

Trailers:

I don’t want to see American Hustle except that it has more superheroes in it than The Avengers (not really). Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams are all in it though. (Lois Lane isn’t technically a superhero, but she counts.)

Out of The Furnace is going to be a movie I’ll probably hate, but good God, Christian Bale is playing Casey Affleck’s older brother. Sorry, but that’s just too much for my brain to handle.

That Stallone/Schwartzenegger break out of prison movie is going to be great. I don’t even remember what it’s called, but I’m sure I’ll love watching it on HBO someday.

Rankings!

1. Pacific Rim

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The World’s End

4. Salinger

5. Kick Ass 2

6. The Butler

7. Man of Steel

8. Don Jon

9. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

10. The Wolverine

11. Iron Man 3

12. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

13. Despicable Me 2

14. Star Trek Into Darkness

15. Elysium

16. Monster’s University

17. After Earth

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