Don Jon

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Don Jon
Against a grey background, three squares with the faces of a smiling young man, and red-haired woman, and shown horizontally the face of a blonde woman.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Produced by Ram Bergman
Written by Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Music by Nathan Johnson
Cinematography Thomas Kloss
Edited by Lauren Zuckerman
Distributed by Relativity Media[1]
Release dates
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18) (Sundance)
  • September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3–5.5 million[3][4]
Box office $41 million[4]

Don Jon is a 2013 American romantic comedy-drama film[5] written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Produced by Ram Bergman and Nicolas Chartier, 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 at the Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013,[6] and had its wide release in the United States on September 27, 2013.[4]


Jon Martello is a modern day Don Juan, 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 enables him to "lose himself".

On a night out with his two best friends, Bobby and Danny, Jon sees Barbara Sugarman. 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 Barbara 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 class by Esther, a middle-aged woman Jon earlier encountered weeping by herself at the college. Jon politely brushes her off. Barbara continues asserting control over him, insisting that cleaning his own apartment, a task Jon finds satisfying, is not something she is comfortable with him doing. Barbara later checks the browser history on Jon's computer, confronts him with proof that he has continued viewing pornography, and ends their relationship.

Jon tries to return to his old lifestyle. Esther continues reaching out to Jon, offering him 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 invites him to her home where she reveals that the reason he is more satisfied with watching pornography than with having sex is that pornography is a one-sided affair. If Jon wants to lose himself, he has to be willing to lose himself to another person and they have to be willing to lose themselves to him. Esther counsels Jon about the need for sex to be a mutual experience, and reveals that her husband and son died in a car accident fourteen months previously. With her, Jon forms an emotional sexual connection that does not leave him restless to watch pornography.

Jon tells his family about the break-up with Barbara: while they are displeased, his sister Monica states that Barbara never cared about Jon and was using him to live out her romance movie fantasy. Jon later 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 she asked many things of him and he could not meet her expectations. She tells him to never contact her again, as he sees how shallow she is and realizes he is better off without her.

Jon begins dating Esther. Even though neither has any interest in getting married and Jon denies he is in love, he 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.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]


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 an 81% approval rating, based on reviews from 182 critics, with a rating average of 6.8 out of 10. The site's 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".[10] Metacritic gives a score of 66 out of 100 based on reviews from 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[11] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore on the opening weekend, gave Don Jon a C+ grade.[12][13]

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."[14] William Goss of praises Levitt for his "assured style" as both director and screenwriter.[15] Edward Douglas of gave high praise to the screenplay.[16] 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.[17]

The supporting actresses Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore received praise for their performances.[18][19] 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."[20]

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]


Award Category Subject Result
Bombay International Film Festival Golden Gateway Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nominated
COFCA Award Breakthrough Film Artist Brie Larson 2nd place
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Most Promising Filmmaker Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nominated
Denver Film Critics Society Award Best Comedy Film Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association Breakthrough Award Brie Larson Won
Golden Trailer Awards Don LaFontaine Award for Best Voice Over Mark Woolen & Associates Nominated
Most Original Trailer J.D. Funari
Dylan O'Neil
Sohini Sengupta
Mark Woolen & Associates
Don LaFontaine Award for Best Voice Over Nominated
Gotham Award Best Actress Scarlett Johansson Nominated
IGN Summer Movie Awards Best Comedy Film Nominated
Independent Spirit Award Best First Screenplay[21] Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nominated
Jupiter Award Best International Actor Nominated
Key Art Award Best Trailer—Audio/Visual J.D. Funari
Dylan O'Neil
Sohini Sengupta
Mark Woolen & Associates
2nd place
MTV Movie Award Best Kiss Scarlett Johansson Nominated
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Breakthrough Performance Behind the Camera Nominated
PRISM Awards Performance in a Feature Film Nominated
Feature Film—Mental Health Nominated

Home media

Don Jon was released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 31, 2013 (New Year's Eve).[22] By June 2014, over two million copies of the Blu-ray were sold.[citation needed]


  1. Fleming, Jr., Mike (January 21, 2013). "Sundance Deal Precedent: Relativity Media Pact For Joseph Gordon-Levitt-Helmed Comedy 'Don Jon: $4 Mill Upfront, $25 Million P&A For Summer Release". Retrieved June 26, 2013. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "DON JON (18)". British Board of Film Classification. July 26, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Don Jon (2013)". The Numbers. Retrieved March 1, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Macnab, Geoffrey (November 14, 2013). "Film review: Don Jon - a romantic comedy in which the male lead is obsessed with porn". The Independent. Retrieved April 30, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Miller, Daniel (December 3, 2012). "Sundance 2013: Festival Unveils 2 Star-Studded Noncompetition Categories". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Rosen, Christopher (March 13, 2013). "Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 'Don Jon' Star, On The Advice He Didn't Take From Christopher Nolan". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Gordon-Levitt, Joseph. "hitRECordJoe, EXCITING NEWS! :oD I am super stoked to announce..." Tumblr. Yahoo!. Retrieved August 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Kaufman, Amy (April 22, 2013). "Joseph Gordon-Levitt: I cut some graphic porn from 'Don Jon'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2014. The Sundance cut was us pushing it past where it really ought to be, and I think it was sort of distracting for audiences. People came away feeling like, ‘Oh, this is a movie about porn,’ and I was like, ‘No, it’s not a movie about that at all.’ I think because those images were so strong, they were leaving a heavier impression than I wanted them to.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Don Jon". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster/Warner Bros. Retrieved July 20, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Don Jon". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 16, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Finke, Nikki (September 29, 2013). "'Cloudy With Meatballs 2′ Beefs Up For $35M And Easy #1, 'Rush' Slows To Small $10.6M, 'Baggage Claim' Gets Lost With $9.2M, And 'Don Jon' Can't Seduce Past $8.8M Weekend". Retrieved April 30, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Susman, Gary (September 30, 2013). "Box Office: How Did 'Baggage Claim' Beat 'Don Jon'?". Moviefone. Retrieved April 30, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Cagle, Jess (February 8, 2013). "Editor's Note: Nice Work". Entertainment Weekly. New York: Time Inc. p. 4. Retrieved August 10, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. William Goss (January 24, 2013). "Sundance Review: 'Don Jon's Addiction'".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Edward Douglas (March 2013). "SXSW Review: Don Jon".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Henderson, Odie (September 27, 2013). "Don Jon Movie Review & Film Summary (2013)". Retrieved April 30, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Hoffman, Jordan (January 21, 2013). "'Don Jon's Addiction' Review". ScreenCrush. Retrieved August 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Chase Whale (January 19, 2013). "Sundance 2013 Review: DON JON'S ADDICTION Bulks Up the Body and Career of Joseph Gordon-Levitt". Moore is a marvelous actress and this role is just another reason to love her.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Joseph Gordon-Levitt Triumphs Over Online Porn in Don Jon". The Village Voice, September 25, 2013. Retrieved on September 27, 2013.
  21. Atkinson, Katie (March 1, 2014). "Independent Spirit Awards 2014: The winners list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 20, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links