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Secretary

A movie directed by Steven Shainberg

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A different type of Office Romance

  • Jan 30, 2006
  • by
Rating:
+1
Secretary is the first of its kind - a very dark love story. First of its kind in that it deals with themes never seen before seen in mainstream Hollywood cinema - S&M, sexual dominance and submission. It was okay to me but it sort of left me cold in the end.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is outstanding in a potential minefield of a role - she handles it with dignity and even provides some effective dark humor. The story here is that her character, Lee, applies for a job as a secretary for the firm owned by James Spader's brilliant Mr. Grey. However, Lee has a history of self-harm and masochism and Grey has a dominance complex along with a very sadistic streak. Combine these 2 in theory and you have 2 very happy people. But this is no ordinary love story...Spader, as stated, is great on this film. He brings icy steel to the troubled Grey, but also provides a touch of black humor which comes at some great moments to 'release the tension'.

For the themes supplied here you'd probably expect a lot of raunchiness - well there are sexual moments, of course, but there is nothing gratuitous, which is in itself an achievement and well handled.
Overall it's quirky, off-beat, and a little bit different. It will either grab or repel the viewer: there's no in-between. The resolution? Is it realistic or a cop-out? It's really up to you to decide.

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More Secretary (2002 movie) reviews
Quick Tip by . July 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
If this ranks under "Chick Flicks," be cautious. Maggie G's daring in her role (vanilla S&M, masturbation, sex in the office!) and James S's is well-cast as the imperious boss. But the plot veers all over the place, as with "Something Wild" or "Punch Drunk Love," and I was disappointed by its uneven pace and resolution.
review by . May 03, 2009
This is a very different movie about a woman who gets a job as a secretary. It seems the more the boss abuses here (he loves to read circle her typos), the more she enjoys it. It gets to the point where her boss finally starts spanking her. This changes her psyche and she no longer is attracted to her fiancee, who thinks it is a joke when she requests he spank her.     Her whole world seems lost, when her boss tires of the game and proceeds to fire her. She then decides to go …
review by . August 28, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Finally, something off the beaten track.     Cons: Not going to be for everyone (even though the sadomasochism is mild)     The Bottom Line: I said almost! Sheesh, even I have my limits...     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. All right, now that you’re already weirded out by my above statement (that is, if you already know what this movie is about), I only say that because I think James …
review by . September 17, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
This is a very different movie about a woman who gets a job as a secretary. It seems the more the boss abuses here (he loves to read circle her typos), the more she enjoys it. It gets to the point where her boss finally starts spanking her. This changes her psyche and she no longer is attracted to her fiancee, who thinks it is a joke when she requests he spank her.    Her whole world seems lost, when her boss tires of the game and proceeds to fire her. She then decides to go …
review by . January 22, 2004
This movie just FLOORED me! I am a big James Spader fan and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Mona Lisa Smile) gives a   wonderful first starring performance... A young girl that has many life problems, wants someone to love her despite the fact and will stop AT NOTHING, even shaming & degradation doled out by her sad sack of a boss to get him to PAY ATTENTION to HER... If you are looking for a real eye-opening, erotic, fetish FILLED movie, (without the usual gratuitous skin shots) then this is the movie …
review by . September 12, 2003
The most important reason to see this movie is to watch Maggie Gylenhaal. This performance is the reason the word "incandescent" exists. She makes herself totally believable and VULNERABLE throughout. It is a brave performance.It's great to see James Spader back in a worthwhile role again. He's always been an interesting, quirky, charismatic performer. Spader plays an attorney (who never has any clients, apparently!) who appears to be very shy and socially backward. He hires Gylenhaal, also shy …
review by . July 17, 2003
Maggie Gyllenhaal manages to take an incredibly complex role and make it watchable. Lee is a young girl with a history of psychological problems that have led to destructive and suicidal behavior. After a brief glimpse of the sophisticated submissive that she becomes, the story is told in flashback beginning with her release from a psychiatric facility. Coming home to a timid and nervous mother, it's easy to question how effective her treatment was when she immediately takes shelter in her room …
About the reviewer
Jen-Jay AKA:JJI ()
Ranked #31
Married into the military for over a decade and it does has itpros andcons. The lifestyle is great and Ido enjoy it. I'm able to do things and see things that I thought I wouldn't dream of. My kids loves … more
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Wiki

This kinky love story features a standout performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal, an offbeat young actress in her first starring role. Gyllenhaal plays Lee, a nervous girl who compulsively cuts herself, who gets a job as a secretary for Edward, an imperious lawyer (James Spader, an old hand at tales of perverse affection). Edward's reprimands for typos and spelling errors begin with mild humiliation, but as Lee responds to his orders--which are driven as much by his own anxieties and fears as any sense of order--the punishments escalate to spankings, shackles, and more.Secretarywalks a fine line. It finds sly humor in these sadomasochistic doings without turning them into a gag, and it takes Lee and Edward's mutual desires seriously without getting self-righteous or pompous. Certainly not a movie for everyone, but some people may be unexpectedly stirred up by this smart and steamy tale of repressed passion.--Bret Fetzer
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Details

Director: Steven Shainberg
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: September 20, 2002
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: July 15, 2008
Runtime: 1hr 52min
Studio: Lionsgate
Polls with this movie
27 Dresses (Widescreen Edition) (2008)

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