The Art of Self-Defense takes a dry comedic look at the toxic masculinity that plagues our environment today. This is a film that blends comedic moments with unsettling realities of today’s society.
After being attacked at random on the street, Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) enlists at a local dojo, led by a charismatic and mysterious Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), in an effort to learn how to defend himself.
Jesse Eisenberg gives his best performance since his Oscar nominated turn in The Social Network. Eisenberg utilizes his infamous nervous perfectly to showcase a man who, after getting attacked, is terrified to live in the world until he finds the dojo, where he gains confidence and strength to defend himself against those who push him. Eisenberg is sad, funny, and captivating. I also really enjoyed the performance of Nivola, who’s performance as the ultra toxic alpha-male Sensei is one you can’t take your eyes off of. What’s scary about his character is that there are people out there who are actually like this. Who reek of toxic masculinity yet have a way of convincing others of their ways which such simplicity and persuasion, the message spreads further. Nivola brilliantly captures this in one of the more subtle, yet terrifying villains of the year.
Though the finale is a bit jarring, The Art of Self-Defense is an extremely dark comedy about the effects of toxic masculinity. Led by a great Jesse Eisenberg and a perfect, yet terrifying Alessandro Nivola, this is an interesting take on an issue that plagues our society today.
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