I took Friday off. I needed a day to myself. My birthday fell on a Saturday, but I wanted to have some time to get my head clear. I decided that I would take in a movie by myself, something I’d never done before and was not sure if I’d be able to do, given the amount of panic attacks I’d been having lately. But, I wanted to see this new movie that Joseph Gordon-Levitt had been plugging on Howard Stern the other day. I’m a pretty big fan of his. I’ve seen a lot of his more recent films, Looper, Inception, 500 days of Summer and Lincoln.
I arrived at the theater on Friday for the 2:00 showing, having the place pretty much to myself. The theater where my film was playing was completely empty. I sat in the back row, in the perfect center, enjoying the quiet before even the preview commercials began playing. For a while, I was overjoyed that I might be able to watch the film completely alone. But not long after, a few other people trickled in. Two guys took the row in front of me. They were there together, but not as a date, since they left one seat empty between them. They did share the popcorn and pretzel bites with each other, which lead me to deduce they were bros, but not dating. As the lights dimmed for the previews, one whispered to the other “Happy Friday, man.”
I smiled, thinking that they planned to blow off work that day to watch a movie about Scarlett Johansson, which a nice thing for friends to do, regardless of their “bro status.” A few others came in, at least two other women by themselves, and a couple sat in the end of my row. I worried that they might be too close for me, but they stayed their distance. As the film started, a couple of guys sat in the front row.
The film was about a guy who was addicted to pornography. It’s not a subject that they treaded lightly on, within the first few seconds the topic became very clear. I’m surprised they were able to get away with a lot of it, and still maintain the “R” rating. It was a line I’m sure they towed carefully while making the film.
The lead character was very much the Jersey boy, of the Jersey Shore type variety. Good catholic boy, GTL and all that, but there was a complexity that to him that I sort of enjoyed. When he talked about the subject of porn, a couple of people in the audience chuckled quietly to themselves, all of us nodding along, as the chords of shared sentiments about things like intimacy, fantasy, and the complexity of real life relationships were woven into the plotline with surprisingly delicate precision.
Of course, hats off to JGL for all the work he put in on the film. One cannot see the film without respecting the physical specimen that he is, which is on full display for a fair stretch in the film. Uber hotness aside, he remains charming and witty, the totally likeable guy that he just seems like he must be in real life. On a very cool note, Tony Danza playing the lead character’s father, and Julianne Moore’s bankable acting chops make this movie really relatable beyond the initial shock of the fact that it’s about a guy who’s obsessed with porno.
I won’t ruin the ending, but I was pleasantly surprised at the raw human element that was part of this seemingly one-dimensional character’s story. How human I felt afterward, safely watching the same things I think every sexually active person experiences in their lives. The movie’s plot moved quickly, and the film ended on a surprisingly touching note. The lights came up and before I had a chance to make eye contact with any of my fellow movie-goers, I managed to dash out of the theater.
I really enjoyed the film, knowing that it was a very difficult subject for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to write about, let alone get the funds to produce a whole major movie about. I’m happy that I was able to see in my tiny state on the day it opened. When I decided to see it, I had thought that I’m probably not the target audience for a movie like this, but seeing the other people from my peer group all making time during their day to go to the film’s opening, speaks pretty well for the universal struggles we all must feel.