Unrealistic Expectations in Don Jon

by criticalhit009

Don Jon was on my radar for a while because of its writer/director/star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It forms a strange counterpart to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in that it deals with the falseness of images, and how detrimental they can be to the viewer. JGL’s character, Jon, is obsessed with porn so much it actively ruins his sex life. Meanwhile, his love interest, Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) is obsessed with rom-coms and other films that are the pinnacle of escapism. Thus each hold unrealistic expectations of life and are unsatisfied, not understanding the full complexities of the world. The narrative is all about how Jon overcomes his false views of the world and learns from other people, and pulls a surprising twist in the end I did not see coming (but perhaps I should have). There’s plenty of commentary on the objectification of women strewn about the film, examining advertisements and the male gaze. It’s a didactic film emphasizing love and romance over hook up culture, and finds that sex is most fulfilling with someone you love.

Assorted Notes:

The Dissolve does a good job of summarizing the problematic portrayal of women. Manic Pixie Dream Girl Woman alert!

I liked the ending, which is (spoilers) Jon ends up with an older woman (Julianne Moore), who teaches him about love, essentially. Though the makeup on Moore in some scenes makes here face look like its been polished to remove all wrinkles, though this lightens up later on.