Max Baron (James Spader) is a 27-year-old high flying advertising executive still recovering from the death of his wife. One night he is in a bar when he meets Nora Baker (Susan Sarandon) a... See full summary »
After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.
James Spader is the original Mr. Grey, a seemingly normal lawyer whose relationship with his new secretary (Maggie Gyllenhaal) descends into a kinky affair that would give nightmares to any human resource director. Written by
Erin Cressida Wilson:
In Mr. Grey's waiting room, where there are three people waiting to see him, one of them is played by the film's screenwriter. See more »
Lee is bent over his desk and Mr Grey instructs her to pull down her pantyhose and underwear. When viewed in profile we see the edge of a bodysuit across her thigh. It's unlikely to be a tan line because she was completely covered (hiding her scars) while her girlfriends were in bikinis. See more »
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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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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