A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (short story) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
1,406 ( 107)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 15 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Lee's Sister
...
...
...
Paralegal
...
Lacey Kohl ...
...
Edit

Storyline

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 kateann1027

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Assume the position. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, some nudity, depiction of behavioral disorders, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 October 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La secretaria  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$182,306 (USA) (20 September 2002)

Gross:

$4,046,737 (USA) (7 February 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The boss' name is Mr. Grey. This is also the name of the main character in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" books and movies which deal with much of the same BDSM sexual subject matter. See more »

Goofs

The classified ad at the beginning of the film indicated Grey's office street number was 2640, but a letter that Lee hand-addresses to him later in the film shows a street number of 2540. This may have been an intentional mistake on her part as she had been making mistakes on purpose for several days trying to get Grey to punish her. Besides that, why would she put the office address on an envelope for Grey that she is preparing in his office and thus is not something she'll need to mail? (She did not include her return address on the envelope) See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lee: [narrating] 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.
Dr. Twardon: [Lee's doctor says goodbye] You can call me any time, Lee. I will always try to be of help to you.
Lee: [narrating] Inside, life was simple.
Lee: [Lee hugs her doctor] Thank you, Dr. Twardon.
Lee: [narrating] For that reason, I was reluctant to go.
See more »


Soundtracks

Whatchamacallit
Performed by Juan García Esquivel (as Esquivel)
Written by Juan García Esquivel (as Juan Garcia Esquivel)
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label, a unit of BMG Entertainment
Under license from BMG Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Not Your Typical Office Romance
22 September 2002 | by (New York, N.Y.) – See all my reviews

Maggie Gyllenhaal deserves an Oscar nomination for her brilliant portrayal of borderline psychotic, self-mutilating Lee Holloway, a former mental institution patient seeking to sustain herself - vocationally and emotionally - in a challenging world where she has few safe harbors. She comes from a messy family background although that alone can't explain her illness.

Learning typing, she gets a secretary's job with lawyer E. Edward Grey (James Spader, who also turns in a first-rate, nuanced performance). Grey refuses to have any computers in his very smart, expensive law office. Like many lawyers he's a perfectionist who abhors typographical errors but his obsession with perfection reflects more than an anal personality hitched to a law degree. His solo practice seems to thrive better than his self-control of a suppressed sexuality, awakened by Maggie at first unknowingly.

This is a film about what many consider to be deviant behavior (sado-masochism and bondage-discipline, not your usual Hollywood romantic fun and games) that most will concur is uncommon in the workplace. Director Steven Shainberg and his cast - and Gyllenhaal and Spader carry the film, forget the supporting actors - show Lee and Grey's rocky and developing relationship with candor, without condemnation and without exploitation. The lawyer and his secretary are sexualized in a way few have experienced and those who have don't talk to folks outside their circle.

This is a black comedy/a black drama. It either grabs or repels the viewer: there's no in-between. The resolution? Is it realistic or a cop-out? I'd love to hear from those able to comment from experience on IMDb's discussion board. But I have a feeling few will post reactions.

A very different film that I rate 8/10 on a personal scale where I value the deep and tortured acting projecting the absorbing conflict of this sexualized working (initially) relationship.


149 of 174 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
No computer? GabrielGlaukon
Discuss Secretary (2002) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?