It was the humour in the trailer for writer / director Riley Stearns’s comedy / drama The Art Of Self Defense that first had my attention. Then came my desire to see Jesse Eisenberg’s character Casey’s interest in self defense actually pay off.
Also starring Alessandro Nivola and Imogen Poots, the first third of The Art Of Self Defense proved quite uncomfortable to watch because it’s never fun to see a vulnerable person being taken advantage of. I therefore couldn’t wait for Casey to finally reap the benefits of his Karate lessons – which he does, but certainly not quite in the way one might expect.
I liked the general outline of Stearn’s story but similarly to Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster (2015), things took a dark turn I wasn’t fully expecting and I found myself wanting to go back to the more humorous phase, even though said phase was mixed in with uncomfortably vulnerable scenes.
There are two or more moments in Stearns’s film that had me questioning the believability of certain goings on. Also, towards the end, the editing had me feeling as though specific scenes had been skipped which unfortunately made the whole experience feel a tad rushed.
Everyone performed well but my favourite is Nivola’s turn as sensei, because he’s the source of much of the little humour there is, plus his quiet confidence and general air of mystery also proved quite arresting.
Generally speaking, I really can’t say that I enjoyed The Art Of Self Defense more than it annoyed me and / or made me uncomfortable. Should you find yourself particularly curious though, especially if you liked The Lobster in its entirety, perhaps give The Art Of Self Defense a chance.
Happy Film Loving