Saturday, May 5, 2007


Secretary; Erotic romantic tragicomedy, USA, 2002; D: Steven Shainberg, S: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Lesley Ann Warren, Jeremy Davies

Young Lee tends to self-injure herself. After being released from a clinic in order to attend her sister's wedding, Lee is feeling all right, but as soon as she spots her father drunk again she runs away to her room and starts cutting herself again. In order to get rid of that habit, she gets a job as a secretary in the office of Edward Gray. His strict authority transforms into dominance and they slowly start SM games in the office. But when he fires her, she falls into depression and realizes she loves him. She admits that t him. After a lot of hesitation, he marries her.

Once, while speaking with a girl student about movies, I asked her what's the worst film she ever saw, and she replied with: "Secretary". Ironically, "Secretary" is actually a good film, but at the same time it also shows that the films that honestly, directly handle delicate themes (in this example, a Sadistic-Masochistic relationship) are not meant for everyone, especially for the viewers that are - whether because of education, tradition or some other reason - conservative nature. At the same time the story was actually written by a woman while the SM scenes don't comprise even 10 % of the screen time. "Secretary" is one of the most bizarre love stories of all time, but it's still a love story, a liberal work about two lonely outsiders that free themselves from imposed norms and find freedom, while the SM relationship was surprisingly shown with a lot of romance and humor. Indeed, old Hollywood stars like C. Gable and V. Leigh would have probably never starred in such a film with such scenes where the lawyer is slapping the secretary's butt while she is reading a letter leaned forward at a desk or where he orders her to lean on the same desk and take her underpants off while he masturbates only few inches behind her, and the last quarter of the film is pretty overstretched, but Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader are simply brilliant, and finding a film that's at the same time weird, touching, funny and makes the viewer think is truly rare.


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