Today, we’re pleased to debut a clip from Riley Stearns’ dark comedy The Art of Self-Defense. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Casey, a timid accountant who takes up karate after being mugged by masked attackers. However, as he takes more classes from the mysterious and charismatic Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), Casey begins going down a dark road of toxic masculinity.
In this clip, we meet Anna (Imogen Poots), who works as a teacher for the child students, but has all of her master’s unforgiving nature. You get a great sense of the chemistry between Eisenberg and Poots, and also the way Stearns skillfully weaves in the darkness (the harsh tone, the cursing from Anna) with the absurd (Casey’s fascination with different belt colors). The Art of Self-Defense is one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. It balances darkness and comedy exceedingly well while satirizing the behavior of not only toxic men, but why weaker men find such behavior so alluring. Hopefully this clip will spur you to get out and see the movie when it expands to your local theater this weekend.
Check out The Art of Self Defense clip above. Click here to read Eric Vespe’s review from the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, which is where the film premiered.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Art of Self-Defense:
A dark comedy set in the world of karate. The film centers on Casey (Jesse Eisenberg), who is attacked at random on the street and enlists in a local dojo led by a charismatic and mysterious Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), in an effort to learn how to defend himself. What he uncovers is a sinister world of fraternity, violence and hypermasculinity and a woman (Imogen Poots) fighting for her place in it. Casey undertakes a journey, both frightening and darkly funny, that will place him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor.