‘The Art of Self-Defense’ Trailer: Jesse Eisenberg Faces His Fears

Bleecker Street’s showing off the new trailer for the dark comedy The Art of Self-Defense starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. The comedy’s written and directed by Riley Stearns and is set to open in theaters on July 12, 2019 in limited release, followed by a nationwide release on July 19th.

Cody Ryder, Andrew Kortschak, Stephanie Whonsetler, Walter Kortschak produced, with Andrew Karpen, Munika Lay, Kent Sanderson, David Zellner, and Nathan Zellner executive producing. Doll & Em‘s Alessandro Nivola co-stars.

Stearns’ behind the scenes team includes director of photography Michael Ragen, editor Sarah Beth Shapiro, production designer Charlotte Royer, and costume designer Jami Villers.

The Plot:

“Mocked by strangers and belittled by his male co-workers, meek accountant Casey Davies (Eisenberg) is used to avoiding conflict at all costs. But when he leaves the safety of his home one night to buy dog food for his sole companion, four helmeted figures on motorcycles chase him down a dark street, knock him to the ground, and viciously beat him unconscious.

Traumatized by the attack, Casey makes the rash decision to learn how to protect himself. While returning home from a gun shop, a nondescript karate studio catches his attention. Curious, he ventures inside and sees a group of middle-aged men practicing martial arts under the watchful eye of the charismatic Sensei (Nivola).

Returning the next day, Casey meets Anna (Poots), the dojo’s only female member. In charge of teaching the children’s classes, she’s a tough-as-nails brown belt whose unorthodox lessons involve showing 10-year-olds how to shatter an opponent’s jaw with a perfectly executed spinning kick. Something about the hyper-masculine world of the dojo speaks to Casey, and his newfound confidence begins to grow as Sensei takes him under his wing.

Things spin further out of control when Sensei invites Casey to participate in the dojo’s mysterious night classes. Filled with full-contact brutality and raw male aggression, these bloody sparring sessions take Casey’s dark transformation to the next level. But when Sensei tricks him into committing a shocking act of criminal violence, Casey finds himself on a collision course with a karate master in a fight for dominance.”

The Art of Self-Defense
Imogen Poots as “Anna” and Jesse Eisenberg (right) as “Casey” in writer/director Riley Stearns’ ‘The Art of Self-Defense’ (Photo Credit: Bleecker Street)