There’s no lazier strawman than the phrase “politically correct.” It’s been used as a pejorative only since the early ’90s, and always in the context of “we’re so edgy and badass and definitely not ‘politically correct!’ ” So it’s always a warning sign when it pops up in a movie’s official synopsis, let alone in 2018. In the case of Richard Levine’s Submission, we’re told that it “slyly updates” Josef Von Sternberg’s 1930 The Blue Angel “for today’s politically correct times.” Ooh, you so sly, Submission!
Ted Swenson (Stanley Tucci) is a writing teacher at a perpetually autumnal liberal-arts college whose overstuffed backstory includes a father who immolated himself to protest the Vietnam War. (SJWs, lol!) His life is turned upside down when toothsome student Angela (Addison Timlin) asks him to read her work, and starts ingratiating herself into his life. By the end, Submission devolves into a Crichton/Mamet-style “women can be sexual harassers too, y’know!” screed whose timing couldn’t be worse. Tucci is great as always, even when wearing a toupee that allows the 58-year-old’s character to say he’s 49, presumably so the age difference between him and the 27-year-old Timlin is a little less ooky. It doesn’t quite work, and that Submission fails the Bechdel Test hard probably goes without saying.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.