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
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.
The nudity in this film was not blown out of all proportion either. At that comment, I'm sure to have had a few male readers click off! The nudity is done in a very tasteful manner and it serves a purpose. It's not an all out flesh fest but more an intimate look at the sad life that Miss Holloway has suffered up until meeting Mr Grey.
The ending is one to die for! It leaves us feeling very happy and left me tickled pink at the prospect of what THAT look means.
I hope this review hasn't been too long but I couldn't just sit and write only a few lines about such a wonderful movie. Do yourselves a favour and buy this film. I recommend that husbands should perhaps consider this as a Christmas gift for their wives. She may think that it's just a kinky idea of yours but I can guarantee that once it's been watched, your wife will thank you for it.
I'm off now to go see if I can find a nice fat worm!
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. Shainburg has also done a brilliant job in creating these two characters but making them very human by not alienating them. If you have been looking for a rom-com in the vein of 'The Wedding Planner' or even 'The Wedding Singer', then it's likely to be a safe bet not to go near 'Secretary'. However if you are not afraid to experience a much darker romantic comedy with an other twist added onto that then this might just be your thing.
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