Secretary

0
0
Subscribe to James Spader alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 14th November 2002

Box Office USA: $3.8M

Box Office Worldwide: $9.3M

Distributed by: Lions Gate

Production compaines: Slough Pond, double A Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 107 Rotten: 36

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: James Spader as E. Edward Grey, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway, Jeremy Davies as Peter, Lesley Ann Warren as Joan Holloway, Stephen McHattie as Burt Holloway, Amy Locane as Lee's Sister, Patrick Bauchau as Dr. Twardon, Jessica Tuck as Tricia O'Connor, Oz Perkins as Jonathan

Secretary Movie Review


For most people "Secretary" may be a "love it" or "hate it" movie. Let's face it -- a dark, quirky, sado-masochistic romantic comedy isn't for everyone. But for me it wasn't the subject matter that ultimately defeated the film's captivating performances and absorbingly twisted story. It was the unfulfilling, incongruous, "wait a second, did I miss something?" ending that confirmed what I suspected all along: "Secretary" only has one-half of a story arc.

The enticing Maggie Gyllenhaal (sister of Jake and his co-star in "Donnie Darko") gives a deeply immersed, credibly transitional performance as Lee Holloway, a fragile, frumpy, habitually self-mutilating psychiatric patient recently released from a mental hospital.

Back home with her drunken father and clingy, angry, victimized mother, she quickly slips into compulsive old patterns of self-abuse (she has a homemade kit full of drill bits and porcelain ballerinas with sharpened toes she digs into her thighs). But all that begins to change when she lands a secretarial job in the opulently 1970s-styled office of peculiar, soft-spoken E. Edward Gray (James Spader) -- a lawyer with an erratic temper and kinky peccadilloes.

Belittled and degraded for every mistake and every typo, she comes to find relief -- and before long excitement -- in having the her compulsion for abuse inflicted by someone other than herself. Alternatively disparaging and oddly supportive, Mr. Grey recognizes in his neurotic new charge a yearning for discipline, which he begins to mete out in increasingly sexual ways.

Soon Lee is feeling empowered on the one hand -- comfortable enough with herself to come out of her shell and begin asserting her sensuality and womanhood -- and on the other hand aching for more spankings (verbal and literal). She starts leaving typos in her work deliberately, and takes her submissiveness to the point where she'll call her boss on the phone from home to ask what she's allowed to eat for dinner.

But after this relationship starts to get weirdly interesting, the film begins to meander. Mr. Grey begins ignoring Lee. He stops disciplining her no matter what she does to beckon his castigation. The girl gets confused and distraught, seeking her kinky fix elsewhere (Jeremy Davies plays an old high school boyfriend none too keen on her newfound sexuality).

The story starts bouncing back and forth as Mr. Grey -- who under his thin facade of composure is at least as goosey as Lee -- vacillates over their relationship until what seems like an ill-defined fantasy (but is played like preposterous reality) takes over the last act, escalating the level of domination to such a degree that only someone as unconditionally submissive as Gyllenhaal's character could find satisfaction in the finale.

Adapted from a 1989 short story by Mary Gaitskill and directed by Steven Shainberg (whose first feature was called "Hit Me" but has nothing to do with S&M), "Secretary" is often funny and the idiosyncratic performances are oddly appealing. But since Lee never seems to grow into someone with her own desires and determinations, her journey feels incomplete despite the blithe conclusion proscribed upon the movie.


Contactmusic

0
0
Subscribe to James Spader alerts

Comments

Secretary Rating

" Grim "

Advertisement

More James Spader

Entourage Trailer

After making a name for themselves in Hollywood, Vincent Chase and his entourage of friends from Queens have finally made a movie. The only problem...

Bastille - Oblivion [Live] Video

Bastille perform their single 'Oblivion' live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta. The track followed Platinum hit 'Of The Night' and featured...

HAERTS - Interview Video

Brooklyn band Haerts released their self-titled debut album this year, and here they talk about how they first got into music, their lifelong friendship and...

Mark Ronson - Daffodils ft. Kevin Parker [Audio] Video

Mark Ronson will finally unveil his fourth album 'Uptown Special' on January 26th 2015 through his new label deal with Sony Music. He has teamed...

Advertisement

Meghan Trainor - Lips Are Movin [Live] Video

Meghan Trainor performs her latest single 'Lips Are Movin' at one of her favourite places in the world: an aquarium. The song features, alongside smash...

Bastille - Things We Lost In The Fire [Live] Video

Live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta, Bastille perform 'Things We Lost In The Fire', the final single from their debut album...

HAERTS - Be The One [Live] Video

Haerts perform an intimate live rendition of their song 'Be The One', taken from their self-titled debut album released in October 2014 through Columbia Records....

ScHoolboy Q - Hell Of A Night Video

ScHoolboy Q released his first number one with third album 'Oxymoron', and he now unveils the video to its latest single 'Hell Of A Night'...

Advertisement