Fails to Climax – ★★
It’s hard to make a 90 minute movie drag but Don Jon does just that. The writer, director and lead actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt presents a parable about a man addicted to pornography and his attempt at changing his lifestyle. He is concerned primarily with his boys, his pad, his car, his family, his church, his body and his porn. Don is a clean cut mans man whose repetitive life is enough to drive a person to drink or in Don’s case, porn.
The film revolves around repetition, he goes to mass, he goes to confession, he goes to the gym, he goes to Sunday dinner, he goes to the club and sleeps with a different girl. The problem is the film becomes tiresome very quickly and the same shots are used over and over again numbing your brain much like the effect of pornography. This seems to stop when Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) appears and when she won’t just put out on the first night she arouses Don’s curiosity. She makes him wait and wants to meet his friends, eventually holding him off for a whole month. However Don is unable to break the grip pornography has on him and when caught out, it throws his whole relationship with Barbara into question.
The supporting cast are pretty dire but this is a failing of the writing and directing from Gordon-Levitt. The family scenes with Dad played by Tony Danza and Mum Glenne Headly make “Happy Days” seem like Beckett. Their portrayal of an Italian New Jersey family is beyond stereotype and the fact his sister remains dumb for 99% of the film is a hackneyed cliche. Don’s pals are yet more male stereotypes based on the assumption that all men reduce women to a score out of ten and if you call her anything except a bitch you’re obviously a homosexual, yawn.
The third act in which Don begins to see the error of his ways thanks to Julianne Moore, whose character is possibly the most realistic and yet the most unbelievable part of the story. He suddenly starts to question everything he holds dear and most of it gets wrapped up in a nice little bundle. The resolution of these issues is incredibly shallow and has little emotional impact.
The film’s heart is in the right place and the message is a good one. The piece is humorous when being honest but overall it’s riddled with cliches and one dimensional caricatures.
Released across Ireland on 15th of November.