Monday micro reviews: Don Jon and Her

Playing catch-up today with two movies I watched but didn’t review at their time of cinema release.

Don Jon:
I suppose you could call writer-director-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon a late onset coming of age tale. The film centres on self-absorbed twentysomething Jon Martello, whose existence revolves around his apartment, working out, clubbing and porn. The last thing there is the most important, narratively, because despite the fact Jon beds plenty of women, none of them provide the thrill that porn does. And when he lands hard-to-get dream girl Scarlett Johansson, he’s given an ultimatum: lose the porn or lose her.

The high sexual content of Don Jon is likely to upset the more conservative viewer, but if you can get past that, this comedy drama offers a perceptive take on the extent to which fantasy – porn for men, and glossy romantic comedies for women – has bolstered dissatisfaction within real-life relationships. For the most part, it’s sharp, smart and refreshingly grounded. Also with Julianne Moore, Tony Danza and Glenne Headly.

4 stars out of 5.


Her:
In the latest from writer-director Spike (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) Jonze, Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who falls in love with a computer operating system that has the voice of Scarlett Johansson. She falls in love with him too, for the record, as she is sentient, voracious for experience and capable, evidently, of human emotion.

It’s a trippy concept, but this highly acclaimed romantic drama (with sci-fi leanings) deftly uses this unconventional relationship to explore such concepts as long distance dating, the degree to which something is “real” without physicality, as well as the legitimacy and social acceptance of virtual/online connections. Set in a credible near future, the film has massive relevance right now. Her is sweet and sad and funny – and just generally lovely. Despite sporting a paedo-moustache for the part, Phoenix has never been more likeable and less creepy. The winner of Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Oscars for very good reason.

4 stars out of 5.

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