“Submission” Asks The Wrong Questions About Sexual Harassment: BUST Review

by Sarah C. Epstein

Directed by Robert Levine
Release March 2, 2018

Written and directed by Richard Levine, Submission stars Stanley Tucci as Ted Swenson, a middle-aged college professor whose once bright authorial career has flickered out. Swenson’s stagnation seems to lift when he becomes a little too close to his student Angela (Addison Timlin), a bright and talented young writer. Intended to question if all survivors are telling the truth, Submission is a moralizing tale, meant to question the stringent anti-sexual harassment policies in place on college campuses. 

The film moves at a decent pace, and while the story is believable, it’s pretty predictable. Timlin nails her roll as the fame-hungry femme fatale, and Tucci’s character oozes with the pretentiousness of a man trying to avoid being a one-hit-wonder. Yet, Levine uses hackneyed tropes supposing that an allegation, if twisted just enough, can ruin a man’s career. In examining the intricate power dynamics of student-teacher relationships, Levine tries to ask the audience, “How can you be sure of who holds the power here?” His film speculates that even the faintest amount of power can be leveraged to one’s advantage, but in this case, it misses the mark, downplaying the responsibility those in power have to navigate a situation, and unintentionally perpetuates the idea that many sexual misconduct allegations are false.

2 out of 5

top photo from Submission

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