Viau’s View/Scott Viau
Don Jon only cares for a few select things in his life: girls, his friends, his family, the gym, his apartment and his church. Oh, there’s also one more thing: he loves pornography. Despite being able to regularly land “10s,” Don Jon still only feels satisfied when he’s looking at porn.
While out partying with his boys at a club, Don Jon meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a girl he can only describe as “the most beautiful thing he’s seen in his life.” But she doesn’t go right home to bed with him. She makes him prove he’s in it for keeps. She also puts various demands on him – like that he can’t watch porn anymore and that he should enroll in college. While performing the latter task (he never truly gives up the former), he meets Esther (Julianne Moore), an older woman with some emotional problems. Despite the age differences, Don Jon finds in Esther something he can’t in Barbara.
For being a first-time filmmaker, Joseph Gordon-Levitt comes off as a provocative and self-assured director. Not only is “Don Jon” entertaining, it’s sincere and meaningful. But despite its earnestness, “Don Jon” doesn’t earn the ending it gets. On one hand, it is nice to see some sort of growth to the character of Don Jon, but the way he gets that growth isn’t earned through his actions. It just feels like a cheap way to end what’s been an otherwise honest movie.
I’m not really fond of Scarlett Johansson, but she turns in a knock-out performance here as Barbara. The woman is sexy enough to be able to get any man she wants and manipulative enough to get any man to do anything for her. As far as I know she could have been an extra leftover from the “Jersey Shore,” her mannerisms and accent are that convincing.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Tony Danza in anything (aside from late night reruns of “Who’s the Boss,” but seeing him team up again with his “Angels in the Outfield” co-star is a real pleasure. They have great chemistry together, although some of it is volatile. And Glenne Headly, which some people may remember as the wife of Richard Dreyfuss in “Mr. Holland’s Opus,”?is equally pleasing to watch. Her warmth, kindness and motherly charm bring real vitality to her role.
It’s a shame that “Don Jon” probably won’t see more recognition in the upcoming awards season. I believe it’s landed an Independent Spirit Award nomination, but it’s deserving of more, especially Johansson, who should definitely receive some sort of recognition for her role.
Gordon-Levitt has proved that he’s much more than just a leading man. He’s thoughtful and that shows through in nearly every scene. He’s a crafted a smart movie here and I’m eager to see other projects from him in the future.