The Art of Self-Defense
(Rated Unclassified 15+)
After being attacked on the street by a brutal motorcycle gang, fainthearted bookkeeper Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) signs up with his local karate studio to learn the finer points of protecting himself. Studying under a devilishly charismatic sensei (Alessandro Nivola) and accomplished brown belt Anna (Imogen Poots), it’s not long before the somewhat traumatised Casey gains a new sense of confidence and purpose. But when he tags along for one of the studio’s sinister “night classes”, he’s soon introduced to a confronting underworld of fraternity and hyper-masculinity – one that places him squarely at odds with his beloved new mentors.
Why You Should See This Film
A pitch-black parody of the contemporary crisis in noxious masculinity, The Art of Self-Defense is a feat of dark and jagged storytelling. Featuring a never-better Jesse Eisenberg and directed with aplomb by Riley Stearns (2014’s cult treat Faults), it’s a genuinely terrifying, blunt-force satire of self-isolation, self-aggrandisement and, indeed, self-defence.