‘Don Jon’ speaks on taboo subjects

Joseph Gordon-Levitt shines as Jon but Scarlett Johansson’s character is left underdeveloped and is played over the top.  (Photo provided by ew.com)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt shines as Jon but Scarlett Johansson’s character is left underdeveloped and is played over the top. (Photo provided by ew.com)

What originally seemed like a cliché love story, “Don Jon” turned out to be a great film with an incredible plot twist.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Lincoln”) was not only the movie’s lead, but also wrote and directed the film.  His counterpart, Barbara Sugarman, is played by a stunning Scarlett Johansson (“Hitchcock”).  The first few scenes might seem to be about an average man with a porn addiction, but by the end of the movie, viewers are left with more to consider than they might have expected.

The movie was filled with messages about American society, the Catholic Church, sex, gender roles, patience and most importantly, love.  The premise of the plot in the first half of the movie deals with Jon, who finds masturbating to porn more satisfying than having sex with a female partner. He claims that he can “really lose himself” when masturbating to porn.

The movie included too many shots of women wearing little to no clothing to show how glorified the female body is in American culture, and to what extent sex rules society. Porn is better, according to Jon, because one can view any body at any angle one chooses for however long. Some other repetitive shots in the film were of the church Jon and his family prayed in every Sunday.

Not only were there shots of the outside of the church, but also of the church offering basket and the confession booth where Jon would confess the same sins every week.

Gordon-Levitt played his role as a typical New Jersey player to a tee. His accent was just right and not overdone like Johansson’s “Jersey girl” act. Johansson played her role well, but her accent was a bit overdone and the way she chewed gum made her seem more like a greaser than a party girl looking for a man.

Esther, played by Julianne Moore (“What Maisie Knew”), is introduced to the movie later on. At first, he does not seem significant, but later becomes a turning point for the entire essence of the movie. Moore is successful in doing this and brings smiles, laughter and even sorrow to viewers at all the right moments.

Tony Danza (“Crash”) plays Jon’s father, Jon Sr. The interactions between Jon and his father were funny and natural, however Danza looked like he was trying too hard to look like an Italian father. His arms were lean, muscular and his veins were too apparent in a disturbing and questionable way.

As far as cinematography goes, there were too many shaky scenes shot without use of a tripod, making it difficult to watch. Also, the shots did not vary too often and viewers often saw the main characters, Jon and Barbara, from the same perspectives. Another downfall of the movie is the lack of fluidity. Barbara talks about friends making significant amounts of money, not being responsible for household chores (that Jon enjoys doing) when one can have hired help and pushes Jon to get out of the service industry and get a degree in order to make more money. The problem is that Barbara has no credibility as a rich girl, because the film gives no indication of whether she comes from a rich family or is an educated woman with a high-paying career. How can viewers understand where she is coming from or what her intentions are if we have a lack of understanding of her as a woman?

“Don Jon” provided a great deal of laughs for viewers, but more importantly, touched on the debate about the taboo of watching pornography and even shed light on what it means to be addicted to porn.  Furthermore, the story ended with a beautiful love story that was much-needed to solidify the film as well as fulfill the viewers’ desire for a happy ending, whether it be what one expected, or not.