The Art Of Self Defense on the surface comes off as quite unassuming. I mean if you’ve seen one Jessie Eisenberg indie film, you’ve seen them all (right). I was pleasantly surprised by this release. Nothing about this film is cookie cutter. Writer/Director Riley Stearns has deftly crafted an astute and accurate depiction of this culture of toxic masculinity which has had a drastic impact on our world.
The film centers around Casey (Eisenberg) who is an accountant working in an office that’s oozing with testosterone. It seems all of his attempts to fit in with the others are met with a roll of the eyes, and most of the time, some light cursing. One night on a trip to the market, Casey does encounter some muggers and experiences some severe injuries. After considering purchasing a gun for his protection, he decides to give Karate a try, little did he know how over the top this class was.
Eisenberg was the perfect selection to play Casey. He has the perfect combination of angst and innocence in the film. Alessandro Nivola was excellent in the role of sensei. While his portrayal was over the top, there was a particular element of believability in that character. What the film is trying to show ( and does so quite well) is how obsessed we’ve become with our identity. Casey so badly wants to be considered “one of the boys,” that he begins adopting characteristics of some of these neanderthals he works with.
The Art OF Self Defense doesn’t seek to solve these issues but rather shine a light on the apparent idiocy which comes with toxic masculinity. The film is dark, funny as hell, and thought-provoking. How do we define what a “real man” truly is? Is it the guy who can break the most boards, or is it the one who is always one step ahead of others? The whole idea is subjective if you ask me. What isn’t subjective is how enjoyable this film is and how everyone should check it out this weekend.
What do you think of the film? Are you planning to see it? Be sure and leave a comment to let us know.