Submission (NR)

Drama 106 min. March 2, 2018
By Alan Scherstuhl
You know that moment about 15 minutes before the end of most American narrative features, when the protagonist is brought to his or her low point, and it looks as if there's no possible way things could get better? Something has probably gone wrong if viewers are cheering that. But the inevitable comeuppance of Submission's dopey professor Ted Swenson (Stanley Tucci) stirred applause from me, especially during a pair of scenes in which he's soundly dressed down by the women in his life -- his wife, played by Kyra Sedgwick, and Angela (Addison Timlin), the creative writing student who pens erotic poetry and asks him to read her novel and then, well, oh, you just guess.

Writer/director Richard Levine's adaptation of Francine Prose's dated-even-back-then 2000 novel Blue Angel exhibits satiric wit as it charts the sore-winner myopia of Professor Swenson, a novelist so shaken by the fact that he has to teach at a second-tier liberal arts college that he just can't finish his second book. You're invited to regard him as either a preening dinosaur or the last sane man left.

Too bad, then, that his relationship with the ambitious, talented, wholly unreliable boundary-pusher Angela plays out exactly as most viewers would expect, with Swenson a patsy for a young woman who claims to have loved his book.

The only suspense lies in wondering whether this film released in 2018 actually is going to unfold like some low-key '90s Michael Douglas sex thriller set on a college campus, where a temptress rigs the code of sexual misconduct against that most helpless of creatures: a dude professor who has been given every one of life's advantages. Spoiler: It totally does.
Richard Levine Addison Timlin, Stanley Tucci, Janeane Garofalo, Kyra Sedgwick, Ritchie Coster Richard Levine Wren Arthur, Jared Goldman Paladin


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