Last night I went to see Don Jon.
Jon (JGL) is an interesting character. He admits to liking porn more than the “real thing,” but doesn’t see it as a problem. He’s not personally ashamed of his addiction—he sees it as a relatively normative practice, but still confesses his actions to his priest every week. He can be a misogynistic asshole, but he also shows throughout the film he can be a gentleman when he wants to be.
Barbara (Johansson) is a New Jersey Princess. She’s as obsessed with romantic comedies as Jon is with pornography. The difference is that she’s even less self-reflective than Jon. She thinks she’s a flawless heroine, whose greatest triumph in life will be seizing a man as perfect as the Ken dolls she covets from her favorite RomComs.
While Jon realizes the “real thing” isn’t living up to his online fantasies, Barbara is convinced hers can become reality. Neither are able to confront the unrealistic expectations they set for one another. Neither will admit without confrontation that they have allowed their desires to be completely shaped by the programming they have willingly submitted themselves to and so frequently consume.
However, in Jon’s case there is at least some degree of exterior force telling him the simulations he is addicted to are not accurate representations of how real people love (or have sex). With Barbara, all external/societal influences tell her that the simulations she is addicted to are the noblest form of romantic expression and are the most legitimate way for real people to fall in love.
Both obsessions are foul in their own way. Both are depicted on screen in a manner that is impeccably human.
I won’t spoil the climax and resolution for you, but I will say that only one of the two characters experiences any sort of cathartic moment and personal growth. You’ll be glad to wash your hands of the other.
You should see this movie.