Perhaps no one does on-screen awkwardness, angst, and a seething undercurrent of rage as well as Jesse Eisenberg, whether it’s as a bizarre Lex Luthor in Batman V. Superman or as Simon/James in The Double. This time, he may get his most revelatory role in the dark comedy, The Art of Self Defense, where he plays a sniveling and frightened victim of violence who goes down the rabbit hole of masculine transformation opened by his foray into martial arts and his instructor, played by Alessandro Nivola. Debuting at SXSW, the film capitalizes on Eisenberg’s acting talents and his brilliant physicality in the role of a man who goes from victim to victimizer by way of a local Karate dojo. The short teaser trailer shows us what darkness and wit to expect from the Riley Stearns written and directed film that opens this summer.

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