The Art of Self-Defense

Critics Consensus

The Art of Self-Defense grapples compellingly with modern American masculinity -- and serves as an outstanding calling card for writer-director Riley Stearns.

84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 162

63%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 631

Where to watch

Show all services

Other Movies

Rate And Review

User image

Verified

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this movie

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of the movie? (optional)



  • You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Step 2 of 2

    How did you buy your ticket?

    Let's get your review verified.

    • Fandango

    • AMCTheatres.com or AMC AppNew

    • Cinemark Coming Soon

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Regal Coming Soon

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Theater box office or somewhere else

    You're almost there! Just confirm how you got your ticket.

  • User image

    Super Reviewer

    Rate this movie

    Oof, that was Rotten.

    Meh, it passed the time.

    It’s good – I’d recommend it.

    Awesome!

    So Fresh: Absolute Must See!

    What did you think of the movie? (optional)

  • How did you buy your ticket?

    • Fandango

    • AMCTheatres.com or AMC AppNew

    • Cinemark Coming Soon

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Regal Coming Soon

      We won’t be able to verify your ticket today, but it’s great to know for the future.

    • Theater box office or somewhere else

The Art of Self-Defense Videos

The Art of Self-Defense Photos

Movie Info

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

Cast

Katherine Martin
as Bakery Woman
Nicholas Hulstine
as Pickup Truck Driver
Lena Friedrich
as French Girl
Alex Haydon
as Man Wearing Pants
Leland Orser
as Detective McAllister
Josh Fadem
as Serial Killer
Scott Goodman
as Drunk Man
Justin Eaton
as Lone Man
Apollo Bacala
as Karate Day Class Student
Will Ellis Jr.
as Night Class Student
John French
as Office Worker
View All

News & Interviews for The Art of Self-Defense

Critic Reviews for The Art of Self-Defense

All Critics (162) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (136) | Rotten (26)

Audience Reviews for The Art of Self-Defense

  • Mar 10, 2020
    There's indie films that tread the line of popularity and then there's indie films like The Art of Self-Defense. This was a dark and insanely comical film, and it almost hit my top 9 of 2019. Great cast and a concept that leads to unpredictable outcomes. I caught this on a flight, but will revisit on a larger screen down the line. The film won't appeal to everyone, but if you're in the market for a dark indie film, this will fill the void. The filmmakers have a strong style, and the character development is carefully done. This is why indie films exist. There's no playbook here, it's chaos at work. 03/02/2020
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Feb 19, 2020
    This is a quirky movie fit for Eisenberg's persona. It's an odd narrative, but has its moments of humor, with some diminishing returns. Eisenberg and Nivola are good in their roles, but the tone of the movie wears down on you after a certain point. There are aspects of this movie I do really like, but in the end, I didn't feel like I had much to take away from it.
    Sanjay R Super Reviewer
  • Jan 17, 2020
    I went in expecting mumblecore, but got more of a Wes Anderson (which, to be fair, a primary influence of mumblecore). Wes Anderson almost always has violence in his movies, but probably nothing so brutal as The Art of Self-Defense. I thought that the whole movie would essentially be setting up Eisenberg as an awkward, meek nerd, who at the very end would go uber-violent, and the joke that they bothered to make a movie for would essentially be "You didn't think this guy would punch very good but then he does". Happy to say, I was wrong. Not only does Eisenberg punch pretty good on actually more than one occasion, there's also a story in The Art of Self-Defense as well, which I was not expecting. Now I still didn't think it was very good, and I definitely didn't think it was very funny, but my very low expectations were exceeded, so in the end I'm actually moderately happy with this one.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 23, 2019
    An interesting and quirky look at modern life, Eisenberg absolutely excellent as a hopeless urbanite, clueless as to why he doesn't connect with his fellow men - until he learns how to. Connect! Although quietly told this is a resonant work, auspicious for writer/director Riley Stearns.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer

The Art of Self-Defense Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Movie & TV guides