Submission Review
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It seems as though, ever since Hollywood’s victims of harassment and assault started coming forward, so many of the films released have been remarkably timely. But Submission takes a different look at the topic, turning the tables on the usual story of abuse and exploitation.

Submission stars Stanley Tucci as Ted Swenson, a mildly successful author who’s been working as a professor at a small college while he waits for the inspiration to write his second novel. As he sleepwalks his way through another semester, he becomes captivated by one of his students, Angela Argo (Addison Timlin), a girl with a mysterious past, some unpredictable moods, and a writing style that Ted finds compelling. And as he begins reading chapters of her novel and working with her more closely, he finds himself in a dangerous situation.

Based on author Francine Prose’s bestselling novel Blue Angel, Submission is a story about lies, manipulation, and scandal in the light of today’s atmosphere of caution and censorship and concern for the victims of harassment.

Like those working in any business or institution, Ted and his colleagues have been forced to endure regular meetings about harassment and inappropriate behavior. It’s all so common, in fact, that they barely pay attention—unless they’re debating whether policies are helping matters or just making young people weak and spoiled. But, of course, the rules and guidelines eventually have a very serious impact on Ted’s life after his relationship with Angela takes a troubling turn.

Part of the problem here is that Ted’s fascination with Angela seems strangely out of character. Though he certainly has his share of faults and insecurities, there’s really nothing to suggest that he’s ever been anything but loyal and trustworthy and faithful to his supportive wife (played by Kyra Sedgwick). And it seems unlikely that, after a decade of working with young men and women, this one girl would be able to grab his attention in the way that she does. After all, it’s pretty clear from the beginning what’s going on here. Angela is blatantly manipulative, using her drama and fake insecurities to get what she wants. It seems strange that someone who’s worked with college kids for a while would fall for it. And, in the end, despite the fact that the story here isn’t the typical story of harassment, it still feels predictable and rather clichéd.

Submission is definitely a timely film, but it isn’t a satisfying one. It may initiate some discussions about harassment and the way it’s handled, but nothing here is especially shocking nor compelling.

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