We dug the hell out of Riley Stearns’ 2015 debut feature Faults, and the rising filmmaker will soon return with a brash follow-up in The Art Of Self Defense, which just received its first trailer. The SXSW breakout is one of this writer’s favorite films of 2019 thus far, its clever blend of quirky comedy, shocking violence, and razor-sharp satire coalescing strikingly into a fierce critique of toxic masculinity in the modern age.
Jesse Eisenberg stars in as a meek, 9-to-5er who, after a brutal mugging, turns to a local Sensei (Alessandro Nivola) for help. What could be a goofy, feel-good story about a man breaking from his shell turns into something infinitely more sinister, and Eisenberg’s anxious energy is here exploited and subverted in service of the narrative.
The Art Of Self Defense hits limited theaters on July 12 before spreading to more screens on July 19.