Don Jon is an objectification expert. “His” women are labeled with numbers or broad names which reference a dress or body part. Thankfully this film is not so simple.
Don Jon is a study of cultural impact, how we perceive actions and how our DNA is molded by our environment. Hit with an addiction to porn, the slick haired cleaning perfectionist Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) chases a perfect 10, Barbara (Scarlett Johansson). Testosterone fuels Jon’s unrealistic expectations of sex and romance. In the film’s unexpected peering into entertainment’s manipulation, Barbara is equally shut out from reality. Hollywood’s persistent strain of romantic fallacies have impacted her own perception.
Differences in how industries mold and groom their audiences into patterns create a couple superficially attracted to one another, bumping heads (after bumping other things) over issues of false awareness.
Men are from Mars, women are Venus as we’re often told; here sits an otherwise unassuming film which finds a common ground as to why. Don Jon was billed as a Levitt masturbation epic and in some ways it undeniably is. This feature buys stock in tissue companies. However, Don Jon strings together purpose between instances of faint comedy. These are quiet laughs while the feature builds a head nodding metaphor for societal near sightedness.
Written, directed, and starring Levitt, Don Jon is perceptive, daring to thrash the conventions of Hollywood’s romantic drivel. Levitt’s directorial debut follows different people, those who don’t and/or won’t change to slip into the patterns of someones life. Importantly, Don Jon carries a Groundhog Day-like repetition, establishing fierce routine which is jarring to shatter as the piece nears a climax. It shows adherence to lifestyle and unwillingness to break from ingrained customs.
Don Jon shows prowess, yet most will find difficulty tolerating the open displays of sexual promiscuity and “borrowed” porn footage. America is like that, but said blindness to reality is the messaging here. This is rare, uncomfortable comedy designed to be divergent for the sake of discussion. It merely takes a lot of Levitt masturbating to get there.
Brought to Blu-ray from Fox, this comedy is (via intent) visually repetitive. Shots of Levitt staring blankly at his laptop with the screen reflecting into his close-up is common – and detailed. The disc is offered definition from a film-based source and shows little shyness is keeping up. Fidelity, for much of the feature, is sharp.
Cinematography however tends to whittle down available details. Certain shots are notably filtered (one likely for narrative purpose given context) and focus will drift while obscuring sharpness. Those are exceptions, if no less distracting when they pass over.
Digital grading is minimally invasive. Flesh tones never shift from natural hues and Don Jon’s palette is unremarkable overall. Mirroring reality (which is a sadly an objection to modern techniques), the film becomes pleasant to watch with appealing hues left untainted by hefty touch up.
Black levels aspire to a consistent density with special attention paid to the club frequented by the title character. Later scenes lessen the push into true black, more akin to lazy grays, if still holding to enough depth for a pass. As a final note, Fox’s AVC encode squishes any compression troubles while managing a mild grain structure.
Musically, this feature drives an enormous peak. Elevation of the score/soundtrack is hefty, taking over the soundfield aggressively to split stereos, jump into surround channels, and blast an overworked LFE. When this disc wants to push music, there are no signs of holding back.
Outside of its adherence to songs, an underlying layer of ambiance adds character. Sitting at an outdoor cafe, actors are surrounded by cars and people passing. The touch is light. Clubs, when not blaring dance hits, capture the dialog and other noise. It’s exceptional for such a feature.
Extras steer short, typically preparation for promotional drivel. Instead, Don Jon surprises with plentiful honesty from Levitt & Co. about the shoot. Don Jon’s Origin runs through the sparking of the idea, dating back to 2008 and finally blossoming during the shooting of 50/50. Joe’s Hats describes Levitt’s workload and the difficulties of being in multiple places while describing those jobs which helped him complete it all. Especially interesting is the segment on production design.
Objectified peers into the characters and how they see the world. Themes and Variations is for the musically inclined while HitRECord Shorts come from an internet promo started by Levitt. In total, 45-minutes of content awaits, all of it worth watching.