I wrote this about “The Art of Self-Defense” back in April at IFFBoston:
“Directed by Riley Stearns, whose underrated 2015 debut “Faults” deserves to be seen by a larger audience, “The Art of Self-Defense” was the best movie I saw at the IFFBoston this year. Casey, a shy bookeeper (played by Jesse Eisenberg), is attacked on the street one night by a masked motorcycle gang, which provokes him to join the local neighborhood karate studio to learn how to protect himself. However, the charismatic Sensei (a darkly hilarious Alessandro Nivola), and his lethal, brown-belt sidekick Anna (the always wonderful Imogen Poots) have secrets that are slowly, but meticulously revealed to us when Casey gets promoted to the mysterious “night classes” at the studio. Yes, Casey’s confidence in himself grows, but he also discovers a ruthlessly bloody world of hyper-masculinity. This is an incredibly audacious movie, which mixes the darkest of comedy with the most grisly of violence. “The Art of Self-Defense” is a true original that aims to tackle the deepest pits of toxic masculinity, almost to absurd extremes. It’s also a much-welcomed comeback for Jesse Eisenberg, who takes on a role that fits his cinematic demeanor quite perfectly.” [B+]
“The Art of Self-Defense” is now in theaters.