**If you are currently in recovery for sexual addiction or compulsion I don’t recommend seeing Don Jon. There are too many sexualized and pornographic images to take the risk on your healing.
**If you are an avid user of porn but wonder maybe if it is causing problems in your life, see what you think about it.
Don Jon was written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Jon is a bartender who likes his body, family, church, ride, pad, boys, girls and porn. He and his two friends are often at the bar objectifying women and seeking a one-night-stand. Then Jon meets Barbara (Scarlett Johanssen). He is in love and willing to wait for sex. But he likes his porn and masturbation better.
Eventually, sex happens with Barbara when he takes a college class like she asks him too. It doesn’t take long for her to find out about his porn. He promises to stay clean but doesn’t. She catches him again and breaks up.
Jon ends up in the arms of an older fellow classmate, Esther (Julianne Moore). Casting seemed a bit off here with Julianne Moore being twenty years older. She teaches him about connecting and a two-way relationship.
JGL seems to take from buddy Seth Rogen (50/50 was an excellent movie) in drawing the average guy in with crassness, including porn clips and then bringing forth the deeper meaning of the story. Through the movie JGL does a good job of highlighting themes of sexual addiction and sexual addiction recovery.
1) Emotional intimacy is non-existent in Jon’s family. Dad is cranky and lost in football games on TV, sis is constantly on the smart phone and mom is just there, with no real voice or strength, waiting on Jon to have the perfect little family. Jon’s hugs with Dad are immensely awkward.
2) There is no connection in relationship for Jon. He is focused on what he can get and never what he can give. Consideration for any other person in his life is nonexistent if it won’t get him something in return. He’s about his body, his pad, his ride etc.
3) Porn satisfies him in a way a real relationship doesn’t. He loses himself in fantasy, which doesn’t require anything of him as a man. Jon’s dad even still refers to him as a boy. Dad also says that Barbara will make a man out of him avoiding passing on masculinity himself. Esther eventually points out that porn doesn’t ask anything of Jon as a man.
4) Jon turns to more porn when life gets difficult. During his regular weekly priestly confession, his weekly count of masturbating jumps up to 32 after Barbara breaks up with him. He sets a new record for 11 times in one day.
5) Healing begins in his brokenness. He has sex with Esther in her jeep, but then is intrigued when it seems she can see through him to the inner workings of his soul. He begins to long for more in relationship.
6) After lying for a while he tells his family about his breakup with Barbara. Mom and Dad are hurt. Jon’s sister speaks for the only time in the movie and points out how Barbara had her own agenda. Indeed, she wanted to change Jon into a non-house-cleaning, money making, suit wearing businessman. Barbara got lost in romance movies the way Jon got lost in his porn, the way Dad got lost in football, the way Esther gets lost in dope, the way Barb’s mom gets lost in booze and overdoing the whole princess deal, the way we all have ways we numb our souls and don’t see our demandingness. But following Jon’s sister’s words mom turns off the TV and the first real family emotional connection in the movie takes place. Redemption has space to happen when we really pay attention to the others around us.
7) Jon longs for deeper relationship with God and spiritual mentors. Jon attends church and confession faithfully. As his heart wakes up in relationship with Esther it also wakes up to deeper desires with God. He confesses his sex out of wedlock, just once this week and zero porn and masturbation. Change is taking place inside and he is experiencing real hope, but the priest hands out the same Hail Marys and Our Fathers. Jon begins to question how the priest decides how many and if he is the same man or different each week. His church had mirrored the lack of emotional intimacy at his home. It also represented a stark black and white thinking in living out ones faith. Black and white thinking sets the stage for addiction.
8) From Esther he learns: a) to be himself via the metaphor of not having product in his hair, just being natural and easy to touch b) porn is acting, not real and doesn’t ultimately satisfy c) Real sex is good when there is a two way relationship not just a one way taking d) Suffering brings wisdom. She is grieving the accidental deaths of her son and husband.
9) Jon also pursues relationship with guys. Instead of just lifting weights in isolation he goes to the basketball court to join a game, a symbol of community. He also is fine not picking up a gal at the bar on Friday night. He and his two friends hang out afterwards and Jon enjoys their company.
In Don Jon I realized the challenge of making a number of significant points in a movie. As a screen writer JGL may have a brief scene or even just a sentence of dialogue to make a point that I have the ease of making in 500-3000 words. So though there were aspects of the movie I would change, I think JGL did an excellent job of honoring those who struggle with sexual addiction, the damage sexual addiction causes relationships, the damage it causes ones soul, and the relational aspects of healing from this addiction.