Dark, disturbing, and laugh-out-loud funny, director Riley Stern’s SXSW breakout has all the makings of an instant cult classic. With a perfect balance of off-kilter comedy and twisty thriller, THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE is what would happen if Charlie Kaufman wrote FIGHT CLUB. Or if Yorgos Lanthimos directed KARATE KID. Plus, dachshunds.
Jesse Eisenberg (THE SOCIAL NETWORK) is perfectly cast as Casey Evans, a timid bookkeeper who joins a strip mall dojo after getting attacked on the street by a roving motorcycle gang. With guidance from his alpha-sensei (Alessandro Nivola, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE) and hardcore brown belt Anna (Imogen Poots, GREEN ROOM), Casey enters an absurdly hyper-masculine world full of mind games, dark secrets, and heavy metal.
A biting satire on toxic masculinity, THE ART OF SELF DEFENSE takes a thoughtful look at traditional values of manhood – violence, emotional reticence, not petting your dog – and then proceeds to roundhouse kick them squarely in the face.