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Secretary [2002] [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Prism Leisure Corporation
  • DVD Release Date: 7 Feb. 2005
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000777UEK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,484 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal 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 realises 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...


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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Annie Fur Lactic on 26 Dec. 2009
Format: DVD
Heavy duty BDSM stalwarts will probably be disappointed by this movie. However, let me say a few words for the defence here.

This is chiefly a love story with a twist. It does, however, highlight the problems encountered when discovering hidden sadistic or masochistic tendencies, as the characters of Mr Grey and Lee Holloway respectively demonstrate. James Spader always manages to pull of quirk with a real finesse, and this film is no exception. Maggie Gyllenhall is lovely as the timid self-harmer Lee, who gradually comes out of her shell throughout the film, blossoming from a mouse to a beautiful woman, literally liberated by her submission.

There are some delightful tongue in cheek issues, such as being anything but submissive when you don't get what you want, finding similar partners by advertising, gobsmacked reactions from your vanilla peers and finally, allowing that aspect of your lifestyle become as subtle or as involved as you wish it to be. It is not hardcore, but set on a subtle level of eroticism. There are, however, some more explicit BDSM references, chiefly spanking but the odd whiff of a slave collar. It is also a good introduction to psychological BDSM via the spoken word, which can be as delicious as any whisk of a riding crop!

Although the film focuses on the two main characters, and the ancillary cast appear to fade into insignificance, praise must be given to Lesley Ann Warren (a fine actor) for her performance as Lee's highly strung and somewhat patronising mother.

A personal favourite and one to watch!
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Doilooklikeiwantabigissue on 17 Feb. 2005
Format: DVD
'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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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By L O'connor on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mo Hunt on 31 July 2007
Format: DVD
On reading some of the reviews of this fabulous film I began to dispare that others had seen an entirely different movie!
Then I reached 'Gerard Butler Fanatic's' contribution and balance was restored.

Yes this film features control, humiliation and punishment. However, if you had been paying attention to more than the actual acts committed (not that risque really) you would have noticed the painfully shy charaters of both Grey and Holloway and how the control and attention of another allowed Holloway to blossom into someone equally capable of demanding (in a rather extreme way) a satisfying relationship from another.
In the end it is the isolated and shy Grey that needs the extra push to grasp this chance of a relationship.

All you have to do is see the challenge in Holloway's eyes as she submits another typing error for inspection to realise that this is an example of a mutually satisfying and enjoyable relationship, not the torture of a weak character by the strong.

I read somewhere that in S&M relationships, it is the submissive participant that is in control. This movie is humourous and entertaining proof. Excellent.
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