Secretary 2002

Amazon Instant Video

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(142) IMDb 7.1/10

Lee has returned from institutional care after self-harming. She takes a job as a secretary with a dominant and demanding lawyer and their employer/employee relationship gradually develops into a sexual, sadomasochistic one.

Starring:
James Spader,Maggie Gyllenhaal
Runtime:
1 hour, 46 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

Secretary

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance, Comedy
Director Steven Shainberg
Starring James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Supporting actors Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren
Studio Palisades Tartan
BBFC rating Suitable for 18 years and over
Rental rights 48 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 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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28 of 30 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bizmandan on 26 Sept. 2011
Format: DVD
In this film Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a rather demanding character, which she does with depth and humour. As Lee Holloway, she portrays a young woman with a strange addiction to pain, but remains engaging and easily empathized with. Gyllenhaal makes magic as Lee, with a blatantly erotic upward gaze somehow innocent enough to leave the audience wondering whether Lee (or Gyllenhaal herself) is aware of just how hot she really is.

I think this film is very clever because if you tear away all of the sexiness and the kinkiness, all you are left with is a very powerful love story, a love story in its most simple form, a story of two people who simply cannot live without each other.

At times this story is extremely dark but within the deep mental and emotional issues the director creates a careful balance of mood using well-timed humour to prevent getting bogged down by the severity of the story.

Meanwhile, the film pushes the boundaries of the 18 rating by use of implication. There are things it doesn't show explicitly but are more than hinted at, this is what I call the "jaws" affect, letting the imagination make up the missing gaps of what is on the screen. As a result of taking metaphor to the extreme the film is extremely sensual, erotic, kinky and risqué without being vulgar.

Secretary allows access the pain of love in its raw form more than any other film I have ever seen, and that's just great.
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