Review: The Art of Self Defense
I'm tired of feeling afraid all the time.
Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is an awkward loner who is mugged one night while out buying dog food. This scars him even more and now he won't leave the house at night and is intimidated by everyone. He comes across a karate class, led by Sensei (Alessandro Nivola) who tries to teach him the art of self defense.
I'm happy to support an indie film getting released in the middle of what feels like a sea of Disney remakes. I had seen a few trailers for this and the cast looks enjoyable. When I rounded out the first hour, I actually pulled my phone out to see if the same person who directed Napoleon Dynamite had anything to do with this. (he didn't) It turns out it's directed by Riley Stearns, the same man who brought us Faults back in 2014. Once I got to the end of the film, that made sense.
Your enjoyment of this film will likely depend on how your tolerance is for dead pan mostly emotionless delivery. For me, that's something that can overstay its welcome. But like Faults, the ending is the best part of the film because it finally breathes some life into the script, even if it was somewhat predictable.
I could tell Eisenberg and Imogen Poots were really restrained here. I wish the film had let them show their chops a bit more. Eisenberg's Casey, whom we're supposed to feel bad for isn't really that sympathetic at all. Every time you want to pity him, he does something ridiculous that takes all of that sympathy away.
Overall, while I actually enjoyed the last 15 minutes of this movie quite a bit, the hour and a half that came before that wasn't enough to make up for it. I found myself getting annoyed with way this was played out, despite the film having a few interesting things to say about toxic masculinity and sexism.
Memorable Quote: "I tried my best not to coddle him." - Casey (Jesse Eisenberg)