Avoid the Knockout Punch: Don Jon is Irritating and Facinating

On November 3, 2000 at the Leisure Centre in Ebbw Vale, Monmouthshire, Wales Russell Rees stopped Des Sowden in 4 seconds in a professional boxing match.  The quickest in boxing’s recorded history.

Why is an account from a boxing match from another decade relevant for a review of this movie? My guess is that Don Jon, the unique, provocative and ultimately interesting film written, directed and starring versicle Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Premium Rush, Batman, Inception) cannot push anyone into considering leaving the theatre in 4 seconds but it may do so in under five minutes.  It is possible material percentages of the audience may consider leaving at the five-minute mark.  Why? The characters are irritating and obnoxious.  Their interests are shallow and single-purposed in nature. Sex is on their brain and everyone (male and female) is on the hunt and members of the opposite sex are meat on-the-bone. And, from Jon’s perspective: regardless of the catch-of-the-day the only real gratification for every single male is that pornography is the only answer to true sexual satisfaction.  His story is told in very graphic terms (to the point of silliness of course).

My recommendation?  Get off the canvas, take the eight-count and survive the (deliberately) offensive nature of the characters and storyline in the films early going.

Let me be clear, Don Jon is not going to turn out to be the 21st century equivalent of It Happened One Night, An Affair to Remember, Pillow Talk, When Harry Met Sally or any other film where we want to see the guy and girl end up together and it actually happens on screen. Don Jon is not Casa Blanca either.

However, there are many aspects of the film that are arguably very funny, clever, honest.  In some cases all three are combined. For example I never thought I would see a challenger to Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm in the Delicatessen. Scarlett Johansson (Girl With a Pearl Earring, Lost In Translation, The Horse Whisperer) and her hallway interaction with her new and testosterone enriched boyfriend have now entered the ring to at least to challenge for the title.

Also, Don’s position is ultimately turned on its head and done so in an honest and genuine way, thanks in great part to the wonderful, and sexy four time Oscar Nominee Julianne Moore (Children of Men, Safe, The Fugitive) and a very patient and smart script.

Ultimately what Don Jon challenges the audience to consider is that someone’s realities and sensibilities of enjoying life and love should never never sit at the extremes of what the media offers as pornography or a sentimental romance.

*****Other Notes and Thoughts ******

One Line and One Line Only

Sometimes a supporting actor gets no lines.  However, if an actor gets one line; Brie Larson (21 Jump Street) gets a dandy in this film.

Accent on Accents

The whole Jersey thing just does not go over on this film, but I’ll go with the flow.

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