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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Don Jon

USA 2013
Starts November 14, 2013

Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Writing credits: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, Rob Brown, Jeremy Luke
 Length: 90 minutes

Don Jon Definition of porn: “You know it when you see it”. Definition of someone watching porn: “You don’t know it when you see it”. Something Barbara (Johansson) needs to find out the hard way. She really liked Jon (Gordon-Levitt), but caught him watching porn – again – which is why she obviously had to end the relationship. After all, she is looking for a real man, a manly man, just like in romance movies. Jon on the other hand, really liked Barbara, but he wants a real woman, a hot woman, just like in pornographic movies. It seems that men and women are doomed to stay apart forever. But then the revelation comes to Jon through Esther (Moore). She tells him that sex is not a one-sided thing. Could that be the salvation of his happily ever after?

Don Jon is a clever and refreshing drama comedy about false expectations and projections in relationships. I especially liked that both sexes were shown as being equally deluded in their own special way. Although I think this movie has a great moral, it is not moralistic. It just shows all those little expectations and restrictions that society imposes on you to make you a good and respectable person until you act like a robot. It was great to see Jon returning to the living. To me, his transformation was most apparent in his face: His puzzlement when he was wondering about the obscenity (no pun intended) of having to pray the same number of Ave Marias after meaningless as opposed to meaningful sex; or the confidence he displays when he apologizes to Barbara for objectifying her. Because of this, I feel that there is also praise in order for Joseph Gordon-Lewitt’s performance as a great lead actor, playwright and director. The happy ending may have come a little too soon, but other than that, it is a great film. You might want to think about taking your younger teenagers, though, since porn is actually shown in this movie. ()


Handsome macho Jon Martello (Gordon-Levitt) is obsessively neat, loves his folks, is devoutly Catholic, and has an adolescent fixation on his hot rod, bulging biceps, and seductions. Sunday dinners he and dad (Danza) argue sports, sis’s (Larson) gadget absorbs her, and mom (Headly) laments having no grandchildren—hint, hint Jon. Every weekend Bobby (Brown), Danny (Luke) and “Don Jon” hunt at their favorite club; he always leaves with the “10s”. But, Jon is unable to “lose himself” with women like he does watching pornography on his computer. Enter a number 10, who does not go home with him. Jon decides the time has come for change, going for the long game.

Sexy, conventional Barbara’s (Johansson) quixotic attitude towards relationships is grounded in romantic films. Determining Jon is her prince charming, she pulls the strings from the get-go. At her insistence, Jon takes a night class—“you’d be so sexy with a real job”—where he meets the weepy Esther (Moore). Whose straight, open conversations completely confound him.

Acting since age six in films and television, with a break at Columbia University, New York, Gordon-Levitt’s script reflects his opinions that degradation accompanies objectifying people, which was instigated, and is perpetuated by the media’s celebrity-myth. A perfect metaphor for this is someone’s fixation watching pornography on a computer. Unsurprisingly, Gordon-Levitt thinks most sex-scenes in films nowadays are gratuitous—his mother’s influence. In the 1960s – 70s she was committed to the feminist movement (his parents met as activists in California). Both Barbara and Emily teach Jon something essential about relationships, plus honesty. Gordon-Levitt’s writer/director debut, instilled with positive influences and advantageous experiences, portend to this not being a run-of-the-mill replica.

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