As we whizz through his day-to-day life like Boogie Nights at 48fps, the uncomfortable laughs come thick and fast, chiefly because we know something Jon doesn’t: he’s going to meet his match. Enter the ballsy, beautiful, romcom-loving Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson, a complete knockout in every sense), stage left.
Flitting from Jon’s sex life to his sitcom family, the confession booth to the console, the first half of the film is scurrilously funny and frank. But there’s something much deeper going on. Staring out at us, dead-eyed, as he masturbates, Jon isn’t just “losing himself”; he’s lost.
But it’s a testament to Gordon-Levitt’s confidence as an actor, and control as a filmmaker, that however much of a prat Jon may be, we can’t help investing in the possibility of his redemption. And the answer to that question we asked back at the start? A resounding yes.