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Secretary [DVD] [2003]

James Spader , Maggie Gyllenhaal , Steven Shainberg    Suitable for 18 years and over   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
Price: £8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Secretary [DVD] [2003] + White Palace [DVD] [1991] + 9.1/2 Weeks [1985] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren, Stephen McHattie
  • Directors: Steven Shainberg
  • Writers: Steven Shainberg, Erin Cressida Wilson, Mary Gaitskill
  • Producers: Amy Hobby, Andrew Fierberg, Jamie Beardsley, Joel Posner
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Tartan
  • DVD Release Date: 5 Jan 2004
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000SVW8G
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,237 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Secretary is a kinky love story featuring 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, but who then 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.

Secretary walks a fine line: it finds sly humour 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

Product Description

When Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal - Donnie Darko, Adaptation) gets a job as a secretary in a small firm, she does her best to please. But her new boss (James Spader - Stargate, Crash) finds fault with her typing and administers a rather unconventional kind of punishment. Soon Lee realizes that she is not only becoming the perfect secretary, but also the woman she always wanted to be. Daring, sexy and provocative, this award-winning film is a must for anyone who’s ever had a hard day at work …

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual and delightful romantic comedy 4 April 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal)is a shy, disturbed girl given to self-harm. She takes a job as secretary to eccentric lawyer Edward Grey (James Spader),and finds herself blossoming as their strange relationship develops. Spader encourages her to give up her habit of self-mutilation, and she grows happier and more confident. She even acquires a pleasant but slightly wet boyfriend, but when Spader sees them flirting together at the launderette (launderettes seem to be much more glamorous in America) he is clearly consumed by jealousy, and then Lee makes one spelling mistake too many, which leads to that now-famous and very sexy spanking scene. Lee clearly relishes their kinky relationship, but things start to go wrong when Edward,alarmed by her intensity, backs off, and to her disgust, starts treating her like "just a regular old secretary". Meanwhile nice but slightly wet boyfriend wants to marry her, but can she settle for a nice, safe unexciting marriage rather than romance and passion? No, fortunately she can't, and she sets out to get her man come what may. The film is wonderfully sexy and funny, Gyllenhaal and Spader are both terrific, there is an excellent supporting cast and the film has a terrific ending. What more could you want?
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars *Secretary* 17 Feb 2005
'Secretary' begins by throwing us into the life of Lee, a compulsive self-mutilator who lands herself a job as an eccentric lawyer's secretary after being released from the psychiatric institution. Quite a lot to stomach already, then the story develops into a tale of love at first sight with a seriously sadomasochistic twist, as Lee is immediately drawn to her domineering boss. He in turn seems to share the same feelings but is apparently incapable of forging relationships, therefore the only way they experience their romance is through darkly comical S&M experiences. Morally wrong perhaps but director Steven Shainburg portrays the fetish theme in a surprisingly gentle light allowing the film to continue as a love story in one way or an other.
Whilst 'Secretary' is slightly out there on a proverbial limb, the aim was not to shock but to portray love from a perspective outside of the social norms. On that note it succeeds and while criticisms do exist over the morality of one torture replacing an other, the general tone of the film is surprisingly optimistic and romantic.
Maggie Gyllenhaal shines with a breakthrough role as the submissive Lee with a turn which saw her achieve a Golden Globe nomination. Her energetic performance most certainly deserved more as she played a very challenging role down to an almost perfection.
It was a routine walk in the park for James Spader, almost a veteran on the indie scene. Nevertheless he was still very impressive as Mr. Grey, the obsessive lawyer as he surprisingly manages to force the audience into building up an odd likeness of his character despite all of his odd eccentricities.

Sadomasochism is a tricky subject but 'Secretary' approaches it carefully, avoiding offence and the shock factor.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
By Sue Lewendon VINE VOICE
I stumbled across this fantasic masterpiece quite by accident. It was late at night and I was up doing the ironing. I was looking through the movie channels and saw that this was the only film about to start so I thought , "What the heck?"
I hadn't got a clue what it was about and so I was expecting to be very bored, I mean, how exciting can a film be about a secretary right? Well how wrong could I be! What I found was a very sexy, classy and truly romantic movie that just melts my cares away every time I watch it. (It's on autoview every time it's on now until I get it at Christmas, and I BETTER get it or there will be hell to pay!!!)
Anyway, the movie is actually about sado-masochism. We meet Miss Holloway, (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who has recently been released from a mental institution after accidentally cutting herself too deep one day. Hence the masochism. Then we are introduced to a very odd prospective boss in Mr E. Edward Grey, (James Spader). Hence the sadism. The interview itself deserves a mention. It's delightfully funny and James Spader is just delicious.
What ensues is a very agreeable relationship that blossoms between these two, until it's clear to everyone that they are meant to be together. They are peas and carrots, sugar and spice, mental torture and humiliation!
The supporting cast are very good but if I'm to be entirely honest, I don't think this film needs anyone else in it! I would be perfectly happy to just sit and watch these two very compatible people mess with each others minds! In some scenes, I literally laugh out loud where as in others, I feel sympathy for the pair as we see how, although they gel together very nicely, they struggle with every day life being so compulsively obsessive.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
SECRETARY was not quite what I expected - and it was so much better. Fed up being disappointed over and over again by films deemed to be ‘a masterpiece’ or ‘unmissable’, it felt really great to be truly surprised by a movie, and for me this is a film that I already treasure having discovered. It might not be to everyone’s liking - and a couple of scenes clearly made very uncomfortable viewing to many in the audience (myself included), but in the end I felt it to be one of the most completely satisfying cinematic experiences I can think of, a film I was left thinking about, wanted to talk about, and wanted to see again. The film’s poster (especially UK) relies mostly on selling the prospect of some spicy sexy spanking, but this does not do the film justice. It is a highly erotic film, but its eroticism is not best defined by one rather perturbing spanking scene. Sexy as it ends up, that scene is less impressive in its sexual temperature than a number of wonderful conversation scenes between Lee Holloway (MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL) and E. Edward Grey (JAMES SPADER). Spader is no stranger to playing sexually dysfunctional leads, but this part is much more complex and intricate his good work in SEX, LIES and VIDEOTAPE, or CRASH. The character would have been ruined with over-playing, but Spader, certainly more courageous and seemingly less vain than many actors of his stature, delivers the role perfectly. As for relative newcomer Maggie Gyllenhaal, she generates a performance that is simply sublime it its emotional intricacy and physical detail. The role is at times touching, heartbreaking, mischievously funny and yes, very erotic. Screen acting simply does not come any better than this. Read more ›
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