An emotionally fragile woman recently released from a mental hospital for self mutilation goes to school to gain secretarial skills to gain employment. She has an alcoholic father and a co-dependent mother who are clueless as to who she really is which a tormented soul who really wants to find something with which she can find success. She is a great secretary and finds a job with a unique, old fashioned, but off center in charge boss with a somewhat sadistic sexual proclivity. She grows and evolves and so does he. Written by
Two posters were made for this film, one showing leads James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal and the other showing a model from behind bending over. Gyllenhaal admitted that the model was not her but it was someone who was dating her ex-boyfriend. See more »
Mr. Grey slams a letter on Lee's desk and he has circled the
letter 'f' in the word 'knowledfe', which Lee has mistyped. When Mr. Grey brings Lee into his office and makes her bend over to read the mistyped letter she just placed on the desk, we see that the entire word is circled, not just the letter 'f,' as was seen before. Not only that, but the word circled in the letter Lee reads is "illuminatinh", rather than "knowledfe". See more »
I got out of the institution on the day of my sister's wedding. I had started to get used to the place. Breakfast at 8:00, classes at 2:00. Therapy at 4:00, and asleep by 10:00.
[Lee's doctor says goodbye]
You can call me any time, Lee. I will always try to be of help to you.
Inside, life was simple.
[Lee hugs her doctor]
Thank you, Dr. Twardon.
For that reason, I was reluctant to go.
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In this romantic black comedy, Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as Lee Holloway, the lady worker of the title. As you probably already know, this secretary doesn't just push pens and use paper clips, she has another, more exciting capacity as her boss's love object. The film actually isn't quite as naughty as many people think it thinks it is, but the truth is that the sadomasochistic area of the film isn't really all that important. The film isn't really about obscure sexual preferences, it's about finding someone whom you are comfortable with and the S&M is just a means to an end. The sex aspect of the film does serve a purpose, however, in that it's that which makes the film a social satire of this culture of flirting in the office; a very over the top one, that is, and one that gives the film it's shock value; but to be honest, you don't really get to see that much bondage. The film is very original in it's portrayal of S&M however, as it's a very taboo subject and for it to be portrayed in a sweet and upbeat manner like this is welcome and very different.
As mentioned, Maggie Gyllenhaal takes the title role and starring opposite her is James Spader as her boss. Gyllenhaal's character is sweet, inexperienced and bashful. She's very easy to like, but she can also be annoying at times. Spader's character is the complete opposite; despite being insecure, he comes across as being cold, calm and collected. He keeps his emotions hidden inside and reveals very little about himself, unlike Maggie's character who is happy to wear her emotions on her sleeve and doesn't seem to mind what other people think. Observe the way that the boss continues to tell her to put her shoes on because her feet stink etc; not exactly the most conscientious person to ever walk the earth. Despite being chalk and cheese, however, the two characters blend together in a way that is both believable and interesting, and this makes for some great chemistry between the two leads that is hard not to enjoy. The fact that they are chalk and cheese is a help and not a hindrance to the film as it serves in making it all the more interesting. My only quibble with the characterization is the ending, which although it brings the message out, seems tacked on and rather unrealistic but it's not enough to spoil the film.
Overall, Secretary is not a masterpiece, but it is a very good portrayal love, and one that is far superior to dull and dreary films such as 'Lost in Translation'. It's entertaining for it's duration, there are several funny moments and the central message, which states that it's worth going to extremes for the one you love is a worthwhile one for any movie, even if it is someone lost under the premise of the movie. Recommended.
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