- Steven Shainberg
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Thursday, October 09, 2003
Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has just come out of a mental institution where she was treated because she used to like cutting and hurting herself. It is difficult for her to adjust to her new life, but that soon ends when she gets a job as E. Edward Grey’s (James Spader) secretary. Edward is a lawyer who kind of likes things well done… and fast. Lee, on the other hand, couldn’t be happier to have such a demanding boss. Soon a relationship outside common boundaries starts to flourish between them both.
What’s so special about Secretary? Truth is, one could regard it as just another romantic comedy out there. Perhaps it has a little drama thrown in there for good measure and that’s it, you’ve got your formula! But this specific movie has a twist, which is that there’s S&M involved. Now, you might be put off by that simple fact, but fact is you’d be missing one of the best romantic movies of the last years.
Secretary is never grotesque, yet it doesn’t shy away from the fact that there are people in the world who actually like a little more heat in their relationships than what’s usually considered normal. This movie is a serious examination of two people in desperate need of letting go, of being themselves. I love the way the movie doesn’t judge its characters; it respects them and shows them as they are. That, too me, is what honesty is all about. These characters feel real and I never felt the movie went over-the-top or unbelievable in the way it depicted their behavior. They are just made for each other in the way they need each other in their own particular way.
That said, this movie isn’t for everyone, but if you’re open to see a romance a little different from what we usually get and characters that seem made of flesh and blood instead of the usual stereotypes found in movies nowadays… see it. You won’t regret it.
Did I mention I loved the beginning and the ending of this movie? Perfect!
So what about Maggie Gyllenhaal? I gotta say she deserves all the recognition she got. She is a brave actress, despite never getting naked until the last act of the movie. And even then the baring of her soul is more shocking than the baring of her body. That’s what Maggie creates through this character, going through every single range of emotions there are in literally a couple of minutes. She’s amazing and James Spader is her perfect match.
Sadomasochism has never been sweeter.
“Each cut, each scar, each burn, a different mood or time. I told him what the first one was, told him where the second one came from. I remembered them all. And for the first time in my life I felt beautiful. Finally part of the earth. I touched the soil and he loved me back.”
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Other reviews of Secretary (2002): Groucho