Director, writer, and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes his directorial debut with Don Jon. Gordon-Levitt’s film rapidly became a favorite when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. A refreshing take on how women and men view each other inside and outside of relationships, Gordon-Levitt has a remarkably strong voice as a storyteller. His characters, Jon Martello and Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) embody caricatures of both machoism and dominance.
Dissecting what it means to be a man in modern times, Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes for a convincing hyper-sexualized lead as Jon, a contradicting man who battles old school values, while treating his women the way another picks out their meats at the deli. He sizes up women at clubs by a numerical scale, and takes them home, only to attend church the next day.
That all changes when he meets Barbara; a strong-willed woman, who knows what she wants from a man. Based on archaic views, Barbara has a list of things Jon has to embody, and knows exactly what she needs to do to get that list out of him. Her addiction lies in the commercialism in cheesy romantic comedies. The natural push and pull of this relationship unravels in the best of ways in a comedic sense, and lands into some surprising introspective territory.
Jon’s addiction doesn’t lie in his predilections to porn and sex, but rather on how our culture tells men what to embody, and how easy it is to buy into that image. With an expert hand, Gordon-Levitt brings uncharted truths about men and women beneath his satirical comedy.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the rest of the cast gathered at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New York City to discuss the film. The Inquisitr’s Niki Cruz highlights Gordon-Levitt’s thoughts on the media, and sexuality.
Comparing Real Life To Unrealistic Expectations
It’s a movie about how we can sometimes have unrealistic expectations of each other, and how media can contribute to that. I personally have worked in the media, while working as an actor my whole life. In the last few years I hear people say, “Oh I wish my life was like it was in that movie.” When I hear that, I get a little startled because real life isn’t as simple as it is on-screen. Real-life is more beautiful. There’s details and nuances that you couldn’t possibly capture in a commercial, or a pornography clip, or a TV show. We wanted to poke fun of it from comparing real life to expectations.
On The Media’s Over Sexualization Of Women
Whether you’re watching a pornography clip, or a commercial for a hamburger; you see a woman on-screen and you reduce her to just one thing; a sex object. That’s something that I’ve been aware of my whole life. My mom was very intent on making me aware that it’s a common thing that happens in the media. My mom acted in the 60s and 70s in the feminist movement and she was always keen to make my brother and me aware of this happening. In a lot of ways it’s me writing a comedy about everything she wanted to instill me with. She was one of the first people to read the script.
Don Jon’s Characters
I don’t think Jon and Barbara were meant to be. These are two examples of characters that are really intent on fitting into dominant and conventional ideas. The character who played Esther (Julianne Moore) is an example of very much her own person.
Battling Inner Demons In Pre-Production
Every time you set out to make something anyone is going to be confronted by those voices inside your head that say, ‘Someone else can probably do this better. You should probably quit right now.’ I have met those voices too, and those are difficult to overcome. The only reason why I finished writing the script is because I was having so much fun with it. Once I had a draft, I started showing it to people, and Scarlett was one of the first people I showed it too. She really liked it and we had these really interesting conversations based on what I had written, and those voices of doubt started going away, and were replaced by voices from real people.
DON JON hits theaters on September 27.
[Image credit: Marion Curtis/Startraksphoto.com]