Indy Film Fest


IIFF 2013 :: DON JON

Guest post by Luke Sanders
Luke Sanders is on the board of the Indy Film Fest, and likes coffee, travel, startups, running, microbrews, biking, farm-to-table restaurants, and all those other things you're supposed to like if you're in your twenties and live in a city.

My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls.

Through this monologue we are introduced to the titular Don Jon, our main character played and written by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his directorial debut.

DON JON's exterior is all muscle car, hair gel, and bench-press. It looks like an ode to Jersey Shore nightclubs. Beneath the gleam is a complex movie about the way men and women misunderstand each other. A note of caution to Gordon-Levitt fans, this film is not 500 Days of Summer--this is a film that intends (and often succeeds) in making its audience uncomfortable.

This is due to the last one of Jon's obsessions: porn. In fact the framing of the film makes more sense under its original working title, DON JON'S ADDICTION. The nickname "Don" is given to our protagonist by his ability to pick up girls--but to Jon, no "real girl" compares to the girls waiting for him under the lid of his laptop.

If our hero--even acted with the full bore of Mr. Gordon-Levitt's charisma--doesn't seem very sympathetic that's because he isn't. He exemplifies all that's wrong with the male objectification of the female.

The first part of the film is spent exposing the way men objectify women, but the second half speaks to the way that perhaps women aren't innocent of unreasonable expectations either. Scarlett Johansson seems an obvious choice for the love interest, as she effortlessly embodies the I'm-out-of-your-league female. The interplay between Gordon-Levitt and Johansson--expressed through chewing gum and nasal Jersey accents--exposes the ways we all bring our own baggage and bias into relationships.

But it is not all porn and AXE body spray, there is some redemption for Jon; redemption that elevates DON JON from a character study on addiction to an oddly sweet ode to romance.

Join us on Saturday, July 27 for this Closing Night screening and after party at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Purchase your tickets here.

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