Charming and engaging at first, Don Jon derails midway—disappointing audiences with a slow and preachy ending.
The pieces are there: Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) with his porn obsession and Barabara (Scarlett Johanssen) with her romantic comedy fantasies share a common misconception of expectation. This commonality works as it should between Main and Influence Character in what Dramatica refers to as the Relationship Story Throughline. Yet for some reason the story fails to dive into this and explore their contrasting approaches.
Instead, the story relies on Esther (Julianne Moore) to serve as catalyst for Jon’s growth. Lacking any of the similar thematic tissue present within Barbara, this wise old veteran comes off more device than symbiotic partner. The preachy, uneven ending comes as a result of this forced and incongruent relationship.
Stories prove their point when they juxtapose competing approaches and synthesize a solution in the minds of the Audience. When built properly, a story communicates it’s argument without the crutch of dialogue. Unfortunately, this film takes the obvious approach and says what it means. Don Jon wants to say something important, but the message gets lost in the noise of a broken story structure.