The song, Let’s Talk About Sex, keeps playing through my mind. This is post number one on my Sex in Cinema series.
Don Jon was originally titled Don Jon’s Addiction. Joseph Gordon-Levitt choose to eliminate the addiction reference from the title because the film is addressing more than one man’s addiction to pornography. “Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy“. In this brilliant directoral debut, Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote the script and stars, compares Jon’s addiction to online pornography to Barbara (Scarlett Johansson)’s love of romantic films. They both like to watch and both live in a fantasy world.
There is an abundance of porn clips, though nothing graphic, as Jon is looking at pornography on his laptop. But the more objectional clips are actually in the opening montage presenting women in tv shows and movies as objects: descending stairs in tiny gold skirts carrying briefcases, wearing skimpy outfits to sell products and one graphic misstep: a woman with an arrow through her breast from a horror film. The men in Don Jon rate the women in the bar on a scale of 1 to 10 but in an interesting twist, one of the Jon’s friends actually prefers women that aren’t perfect in their rating system. Barbara, on the other hand, prefers her men to be like the ones in the romantic films (hilariously spoofed within the film) — ready to give up their lives for her.
The reason this film is such a revelation? It takes the conventions of a raunchy, romantic comedy and turns those conventions into a mirror to reflect back what’s wrong with men and women’s expectations and fantasies. Julianne Moore’s character acts as a lightning rod for Jon and suddenly a film that seems to be about sex and the glorification and objectification of the female body is revealed to be a sweet story of intimacy and healing. But please, don’t tell anyone. Let’s let everyone think Don Jon is all about how hot Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson are…
If anyone learns that this film is actually a lesson about true intimacy, there might be less young couples in the theater and they’re the ones that really need this lesson!
Rating: 4 cocktails from that happening club down the street