Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives porn a bad name
One of the most talked about and anticipated films at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival was without a doubt Don Jon’s Addiction. This is the first feature length film that is written, directed, and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The film’s World Premiere happened on Friday night at the Eccles Theatre was absolutely a mad house. Fans of Joseph Gordon-Levitt waited over 6 hours in line to hopefully score a ticket to the film but sadly almost all everyone without a badge or a hard ticket got turned away including myself. Luckily, I woke up at the crack of dawn today and rushed over to the Eccles where I scored a front row seat to the film.
Don Jon’s Addiction is about a guy named Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who is addicted to porn. He masturbates several times a day and honestly even real sex doesn’t even hold up to the effect that porn has on him. One night in the club, Don meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) who he labels as the perfect dime and tries to get her to sleep with him. Unlike the other girls that Don Jon meets on a daily basis, Barbara doesn’t hook up but instead she is looking for a real relationship. Its now up to Don to reevaluate himself and his addiction to see if he can be the man that Barbara wants him to be.
When watching Don Jon’s Addiction I was totally shocked by what I was seeing on-screen. I have been a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt since I first saw him in Manic back in 2001. Since then Joseph Gordon-Levitt seems to have played every single character an actor can play from a gay pimp to a younger Bruce Willis. He is extremely talented and is one of the best actors of this generation without a doubt in my mind. However, one role that I never thought I would see him play is a Guido from New Jersey who is addicted to porn.
As Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt completely disappears from the screen and is replaced by this smooth talking meat head from Jersey. Gordon-Levitt plays this character as if it is a real person and I can say that with confidence since I was born and raised in New Jersey. Don Jon is the real deal from his mannerisms to him screaming “are you a fucking retard” while sitting in traffic. I laughed at so many scenes simply because this character felt so authentic and I loved how he portrayed the character.
Now, there is a lot to say about the film as a whole but first and foremost the thing that everyone is really interested in: the subject matter. This film is clearly intended for an adult audience. There are at least 50 porn clips spread out throughout the entire film and it makes the film feel much more risque than it actually is. While I still believe that the film will be rated NC-17 fresh out of the festival, I do believe with the right amount of cuts that Gordon-Levitt will get an R rating since as he mentioned at the Q&A, he avoided any vagina or penis shots. The use of porn clips really helps build the story and showcase his addiction. There are scenes in the film that seem surreal to me but I know that people like this do exist. Don Jon can go from having sex with a woman to masturbating to porn in 10 minutes flat. It’s truly interesting to see a character like this being presented in such a raw yet realistic light.
Another thing to mention about the film is simply the acting as a whole. I already mentioned that Gordon-Levitt is solid but there are so many other key players in this film. When seeing Johansson portray Barbara, I almost forgot that I was watching Scarlett Johansson but instead thought I watching some girl from the streets of Staten Island on the big screen. Johansson owns the role as the controlling and self obsessed girlfriend. She is so unlikable but again so damn irresistible to the eye. Tony Danza plays Don’s father and he is just the picture perfect example of an asshole Italian father if I ever saw one. Julianne Moore’s character Esther is probably the most critical to the film and probably the most sincere character of the bunch. Moore plays this role with such dedication and ease. She is simply terrific. Lastly, Brie Larson who’s role is pretty much to sit there and text the entire time showcases such talent without even using any dialogue at all. There is, however, one scene in the film where she talks about Barbara which is absolutely brilliant.
For a first time director/writer, I think Gordon-Levitt really did a great job with the film. He told a very unique type of love story here and even managed to produce a lot of laughs along the way. While the film isn’t a perfect masterpiece, it is something that addresses a serious issue in today’s society. As Gordon-Levitt pointed out in the Q&A after the film, these characters specifically Don Jon and Barbara both exist because they are addicted to various forms of media. Barbara is obsessed with romantic movies that have this make believe fairy tale ending and Don Jon connects more with his pornographic videos than to a real people. It’s a unique film with interesting characters so I applaud Gordon-Levitt for doing something that isn’t ordinary and also takes a chance to tackle a subject matter that so few dare to discuss.
In conclusion, Joseph Gordon-Levitt proves once again that he is a master of all things in film. While I won’t sit here and say that Don Jon’s Addiction is a cinematic masterpiece, I will say that its a fine piece of film that offers a wide array of things that you don’t normally see in many films. Gordon-Levitt proves that while being a powerful player in the media, he does see the effect that it has on people and it is shown throughout his film and these characters. I anxiously await to see his next film and what subject matter he tackles next but until then I will just sit back and enjoy watching his career get stronger and stronger.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Don Jon’s Addiction is a 8 out of 10.