The Art of Self-Defense ★★★★½

“You’re going to love being a gun owner.”

Didn’t know what to expect from this (heard mixed reviews about Stearns’s first film), walked out incredibly impressed. Stearns knows the processes and rituals of MRA/PUA/anti-feminist “culture” scarily well and uses that to his advantage, stripping away all of the pomp and circumstance and laying bare how grotesque it actually is - the film even reads like a dressed-down, less alluring version of Fight Club, the ultimate example of a work being co-opted by its in-fiction targets. Maintaining the kind of balance he does between making your subjects hilarious and reminding the viewer that they’re still a threat is hard enough as it is; doing so with genuine empathy for their victims is even harder. Excited to see what comes next from him. Extra points awarded for a well-used Imogen Poots performance.

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