Jesse Eisenberg stars as the mild-mannered Casey who, after joining a karate class, releases his inner monster in the dark comedy, The Art of Self-Defense, which plays the Salmar Classic Friday, Nov. 22 to Wednesday, Nov. 27. (File photo)

Coming soon: Dark comedy The Art of Self-Defense to hit theSalmar Classic

Cimemaphile by Joanne Sargent

We’re all familiar with the uplifting storyline where the weakling becomes strong and no one kicks him around anymore.

The Art of Self-Defense is a disconcerting exaggeration of that theme wherein the mild-mannered guy comes to embody the behaviour he once feared and becomes the aggressor.

As Rotten Tomatoes describes the film, “this is an original dark comedy that takes toxic masculinity to absurd extremes.”

Casey is meek, anxious and socially awkward. A severe beating by a motorcycle gang as he innocently walks home from the store exacerbates his anxiety and fear of the world. On his way to purchase a gun, he passes a dojo and decides to join the Sensei’s karate classes. Casey throws himself into the discipline and, under the watchful eye of both Sensei and hardcore brown belt Anna (the only woman in the dojo), he gains a newfound sense of confidence. This first part of the movie has us expecting an enjoyable empowerment story.

But then the film takes a chilling Fight Club-esque turn. The lessons gradually become more intense and Casey eagerly follows his super-macho Sensei’s advice to pursue hyper-masculinity and dominance in all things. When he is invited to the dojo’s exclusive night classes, Casey becomes privy to a sinister world of brutality and brazen cruelty. He starts to recognize the toxicity of the Sensei’s brand of masculinity and just how warped his teachings are. That puts Casey in danger, squarely in the sights of his mentor, leading to an outlandish ending which wins us over.

The Art of Self-Defense won’t be for everyone as it’s not intended to be a crowd-pleaser, but instead an examination of extreme notions of masculinity. Jesse Eisenberg is perfect in the role of the passive character whose Sensei coaxes out his hidden monster. There are some uncomfortable testosterone-fueled scenes, but the movie does have its amusing and dryly-funny moments.

The Art of Self-Defense runs from Friday Nov. 22 to Wednesday Nov. 27 at 7:30 nightly at the Salmar Classic Cinema.

Read more: Salmar Theatres manager recognized for being inclusive employer

Read more: Cirque-inspired Nutcracker sleigh rides into outdoor Okanagan theatre


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Silver Creek residents see aircraft dropping fire retardant in direction of Falkland

Wildfire BC says no fire, crews in two air tankers and a bird dog were just practising

Majority of Salmon Arm council votes yes to controversial rezoning

Mayor and one councillor say no based on possibility that creek might be altered

Letter: Unmasked faces plentiful at Salmon Arm stores

Writer concerned residents, businesses have reverted to “old normal” too soon

Hitchhiker with metal pipe prompts RCMP to close of Highway 1 near Salmon Arm

Police respond to report of man who pointed what was believed to be a rifle at passing driver

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

‘Resistance’ from Interior Health puts races in Penticton on hold

It’s unknown if races planned for this weekend at the Penticton Speedway will take place

Fundraiser kick-started for Vernon woman battling tongue cancer

Woman’s four-year-old twins are the driving force behind her fight

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Oliver Town Hall reopens to public as COVID-19 test comes back negative

Town Hall was closed briefly as a staff member showed multiple COVID-19 symptoms

Lake Country beachgoers reminded to maintain distance amid COVID-19

Signage, park rangers, park patrol students in place to monitor busy beaches in Central Okanagan

RCMP to investigate hate-motivated vandalism in Summerland

Swastikas and other graffiti spray painted on house and at bandshell

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Most Read