In dozens of movies from "Big Night" to "Devil Wears Prada" to "Julie and Julia" to "Spotlight," Stanley Tucci has always been an actor you can count on. Now he gets another chance at a lead character in "Submission."
Tucci plays Ted Swenson, an author who had some success with his first novel, but hasn't been able to write a followup, so he's teaching creative writing at a small college. His home life with wife Sherrie (Kyra Sedgwick) is fine, but he's restless, and one of the young women in his class catches his eye. Angela (Addison Timlin) is smart and feisty, a spark in Ted's otherwise boring day. When she asks him to take a look at the first chapter of a novel that she's writing, he agrees. Surprised and intrigued by the quality of her work, he agrees to read more of it and meet with her privately to discuss it. The relationship is purely platonic at first, but Ted gets drawn in where he knows he shouldn't, and that leads to trouble.
The theme is timely, with all the tales of sexual harassment that have made headlines in the last year. With its older man/younger woman dynamic, "Submission" is a story of sex and manipulation and power -- but whose? Unfortunately, the story beats are too predictable, the college-community characters too cliched, and the ending too pat. I expected more.
I give "Submission" a 4 out of 10.