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The Art of Self-Defense Image

The Art of Self-Defense

ALT | Rupture

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, Riley Stearns’ The Art of Self-Defense is an original dark comedy that takes toxic masculinity to absurd extremes.

"Dark, sinister, and disarmingly hilarious... The Art of Self-Defense may be presented as an absurdist satire, but like the best American comedies --from the workplace ennui of Office Space to the competitive one-upmanship of Talladega Nights--it doubles as a keen critique of our national character.”--Variety

"The Art of Self-Defense manages to clarify the filmmaker’s intriguing vision by stuffing it into a remarkably unnerving character study that winds its way to one of the greatest punchlines in recent movie memory.”-- IndieWire

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Canadian premiere
Director Riley Stearns
Country of Origin: USA
Year: 2019
Running Time: 105 mins
Format: DCP
Classification: 19+
Related Links: Trailer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots


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