In an age when days have become torturous blank canvases for another series of existential disappointment, it’s nice to have a reprieve every once and awhile through pop culture. And really, there’s no better escape than a reprehensible black comedy.
Enter The Art of Self-Defense. Directed by Riley Stearns, this punchy, bleak indie comedy follows a mild-mannered bookkeeper (Jesse Eisenberg), who’s looking to shake up his life with a little neighborhood karate. Spoiler: He gets more than just a white belt.
Back in March, senior writer Randall Colburn praised the film in the wake of its South by Southwest premiere, writing: “The Art Of Self-Defense achieves a timelessness that not only gives it staying power, but also a broader, more active journey in the process.”
The film doesn’t bow until July 12th, but Bleecker Street dropped the film’s first trailer, which certainly hints at Colburn’s sentiments. Watch below.
Here’s the official synopsis:
After he’s attacked on the street at night by a roving motorcycle gang, timid bookkeeper Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) joins a neighborhood karate studio to learn how to protect himself. Under the watchful eye of a charismatic instructor, Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), and hardcore brown belt Anna (Imogen Poots), Casey gains a newfound sense of confidence for the first time in his life.
But when he attends Sensei’s mysterious night classes, he discovers a sinister world of fraternity, brutality and hyper-masculinity, presenting a journey that places him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor. Audacious and offbeat, The Art of Self-Defense is an original dark comedy that takes toxic masculinity to absurd extremes.