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Sundance '13 Review: DON JON'S ADDICTION Is JGL's Porn-Fueled Love Story

Don Jon's Addiction

Writer/Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Brie Larson

Official Synopsis: Jon Martello objectifies everything in his life: his apartment, his car, his family, his church, and, of course, women. His buddies even call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. Yet even the finest flings don’t compare to the transcendent bliss he achieves alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Dissatisfied, he embarks on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life, but ends up learning larger lessons of life and love through relationships with two very different women.

Performances

In the post-film Q&A, Joseph Gordon-Levitt said that the main reason he wanted to play the character of Jon was because he thought it would be hilarious. Good thing he followed his instincts, because he does a great job as a muscle-bound Jersey tough guy archetype who can score nearly any girl he wants but is addicted to pornography. The character is funny and full of bravado and slick charm, but JGL also gives us a look beneath the macho exterior to a man who needs to understand the true meaning of love and connection.

Scarlett Johansson does her best work in years as a gorgeous Jersey "dime" with an attitude, falling for Jon but horrified to discover his secret. Julianne Moore is funny, vulnerable, and relatable as an older student at Jon's community college who teaches him some valuable life lessons (I'll leave it at that so I don't spoil anything). Brie Larson essentially plays a skinnier female Silent Bob, spending the entire movie silent and texting on her phone save for one scene in which she offers Jon some wise advice. But most surprising was Tony Danza, who spends most of the movie in a wife beater swearing at his family in that special way only someone from New Jersey can. He's been absent from the limelight for years, and this brash personality is a great choice of character for his comeback.

Story and Direction

Gordon-Levitt certainly isn't afraid to tackle a subject that's normally taboo in our culture, diving into the topic of porn addiction with a respectable mix of drama and humor. When characters watching porn in Hollywood movies, it's usually used as nothing more than a punchline, but the writer/director really delves into the mentality of being an addict and what consequences that has in his relationships. JGL also deftly draws comparisons between pornography and Hollywood romance films, with his ultimate message being that allowing media of any kind to set unreasonable expectations in our lives will never be fulfilling.

You can definitely feel JGL's background with his collaborative short film website hitRECord coming through in the editing of this movie as it intercuts real pornography into dinner conversations and splices crazy fast montages together. He's also worked with some of the best directors in the world over his career, and a few shots in particular from Don Jon's Addiction feel straight out of a Rian Johnson movie, but overall Gordon-Levitt has his own style and charm that he brings behind the camera as well as in front of it. The film is charming, very funny, sexy, smart, and entertaining, and is one of the most energetic and defined directorial debuts I've seen in quite some time.

Similar To

Elijah mentioned in our video review that it starts out with kind of an American Psycho vibe, and the narration and meticulous nature of the Jon character lend itself to that comparison. But this is a much more heartfelt story than that one, and Don Jon's Addiction is such a specific kind of love story that I don't think there are many contemporaries worthy of comparison.

Chances You'll See It In Theaters

They'll probably have to cut down a few of the real porn sequences that they used in the movie, but with a name as big as JGL's and Voltage Pictures already behind it, I think this one has a really good chance of coming to most theaters.

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