Don Jon

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Don Jon
Don Jon Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Produced by Ram Bergman
Written byJoseph Gordon-Levitt
Music by Nathan Johnson
CinematographyThomas Kloss
Edited byLauren Zuckerman
Distributed by Relativity Media [1]
Release date
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18)(Sundance)
  • September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27)(United States)
Running time
90 minutes [2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$3–5.5 million [3] [4]
Box office$41.3 million [4]

Don Jon is a 2013 American romantic comedy-drama film [5] written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his feature directorial debut. The film stars Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, and Julianne Moore, with Rob Brown, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, and Tony Danza in supporting roles. The film premiered under its original title Don Jon's Addiction [6] [7] at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013, [8] and had its wide release in the United States on September 27, 2013. [4]



Jon Martello is a young Italian American and modern-day Don Juan living and working as a bartender in New Jersey, with a short list of things he cares about: "my body, my pad, my ride, my family, my church, my boys, my girls, my porn." Though he has a very active sex life, he is more sexually satisfied by viewing pornography and masturbating, which he claims allows him to "lose himself."

On a night out with his two best friends, Bobby and Danny, Jon sees Barbara Sugarman, a young woman from a more affluent background. Although she finds him interesting, she declines his offer for a one-night stand. He tracks her down on Facebook and invites her to lunch. There is mutual attraction, but Barbara insists on a long-term courtship, which proceeds for over a month without sex. She encourages Jon to take night classes to get an office job outside the service industry, and Jon indulges her love for romance movies, which he usually dismisses as unrealistic fantasy. They meet each other's families and Jon's parents love her.

The two have sex, but Jon is still dissatisfied. He loves Barbara and considers her body perfect, but still finds pornography more satisfying. While she sleeps, Jon watches pornography. Barbara catches him and is shocked. She prepares to leave Jon, but he denies that he watches pornography and claims it was a joke emailed to him by a friend.

Their relationship resumes, with Jon watching pornography primarily outside his apartment, concealing his habit from Barbara. He is caught watching a video on his cell phone before a college class by Esther, a middle-aged woman Jon earlier encountered weeping by herself. Jon politely brushes her off. Barbara continues asserting control, insisting that cleaning his own apartment, a task Jon finds satisfying, is not something she is comfortable with him doing. Barbara checks the browser history on Jon's computer, confronts him with proof that he has continued viewing pornography, then ends their relationship.

Jon tries to return to his old lifestyle, but ends up in a downward spiral. Esther continues reaching out, offering Jon the benefit of her experience. She lends him an erotic video that she believes has a more realistic depiction of sexual relations. He responds by initiating a sexual encounter in her parked car. She persuades Jon to try masturbating without pornography, but he is unable to. She feels the reason he is more satisfied with watching than having sex is that pornography is a one-sided affair. If Jon wants to lose himself, it must be to another person, a mutual experience. Esther reveals that her husband and son died in a car accident. With her, Jon forms an emotional sexual connection.

Jon tells his family about the break-up with Barbara. While they are displeased, his sister Monica states that Barbara was just dating Jon because she knew she could manipulate him. Jon meets with Barbara and apologizes for lying to her about the pornography. Barbara says she asked one thing of him and he failed. Jon replies that she asked many things of him and he could not meet her expectations. As she tells him to never contact her again, he sees how shallow she is and realizes he is better off without her.

Jon begins dating Esther. Even though she is considerably older and neither has any interest in getting married, Jon believes he really understands Esther and that they can get emotionally lost in each other.



Development for Don Jon began in 2008, when Gordon-Levitt wrote early notes about the film. Rian Johnson gave feedback during the writing process and reviewed several cuts of the film. Christopher Nolan cautioned against both directing and starring in the film due to the extra challenges it would bring. [9]

Gordon-Levitt has credited his experience directing short films for HitRecord for teaching him what he needed to know to make Don Jon and has said that he hopes to make films in a more collaborative way in the future. [10]

Principal photography for Don Jon began in May 2012.


In the United States, the film was originally certified NC-17, due to some explicit porn that Jon watches. Gordon-Levitt decided to remove some of the more graphic scenes to qualify for an "R" rating, because he felt the original rating would cause people to think the movie was about porn. [11]


Critical response

Don Jon received positive reviews from critics, with most giving praise to the lead performances, especially Gordon-Levitt's. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 79% approval rating, based on reviews from 199 critics, with a rating average of 6.8/10. The website's critical consensus states: "Don Jon proves to be an amiable directing debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and a vivacious showcase for his co-star, Scarlett Johansson". [12] Metacritic gives a score of 66 out of 100 based on reviews from 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews. [13] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore on the opening weekend, gave Don Jon a C+ grade. [14] [15]

Don Jon received very positive reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. Entertainment Weekly managing editor Jess Cagle called the film "one of the best movies I saw at the fest" and wrote, "Funny, touching, smart, and supremely confident, Don Jon is also Gordon-Levitt's feature directorial debut, and it establishes him as one of Hollywood's most exciting new directors." [16] William Goss of praised Levitt for his "assured style" as both director and screenwriter. [17] Edward Douglas of gave high praise to the screenplay. [18] Consensus of the film when it was played at the Sundance Film Festival, as noted by Odie Henderson, was that Don Jon was a "more fun version" of the 2011 film Shame . [19]

The supporting actresses Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore received praise for their performances. [20] [21] Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice praised the film, writing: "There's no dancing in Gordon-Levitt's writing-directing debut, Don Jon, although the movie is so heavily reminiscent—in the good way—of Saturday Night Fever that an arm-swinging paint-can reverie wouldn't be out of place." [22]

Box office

Don Jon grossed $24.5 million in North America and $16.5 million internationally, for a total worldwide gross of $41 million. [4]


Bombay International Film FestivalGolden Gateway Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nominated
COFCA AwardBreakthrough Film Artist Brie Larson 2nd place
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Most Promising FilmmakerJoseph Gordon-LevittNominated
Denver Film Critics Society AwardBest Comedy FilmNominated
Georgia Film Critics AssociationBreakthrough AwardBrie LarsonWon
Golden Trailer Awards Don LaFontaine Award for Best Voice OverMark Woolen & AssociatesNominated
Most Original TrailerJ.D. Funari
Dylan O'Neil
Sohini Sengupta
Mark Woolen & Associates
Don LaFontaine Award for Best Voice OverNominated
Gotham Award Best Actress Scarlett Johansson Nominated
IGN Summer Movie AwardsBest Comedy FilmNominated
Independent Spirit Award Best First Screenplay [23] Joseph Gordon-LevittNominated
Jupiter Award Best International ActorNominated
Key Art Award Best Trailer—Audio/VisualJ.D. Funari
Dylan O'Neil
Sohini Sengupta
Mark Woolen & Associates
2nd place
MTV Movie Award Best Kiss Scarlett JohanssonNominated
Joseph Gordon-LevittNominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society AwardBreakthrough Performance Behind the CameraNominated
Prism Awards Performance in a Feature FilmNominated
Feature Film—Mental HealthNominated

Home media

Don Jon was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 31, 2013 (New Year's Eve). [24] By June 2014, over two million copies of the Blu-ray were sold.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

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