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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.

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(screenplay), (short story) | 2 more credits »
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1,407 ( 72)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 15 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jonathan (as Oz Perkins)
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Lee's Sister
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Lily Knight ...
Paralegal
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Lacey Kohl ...
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Storyline

An emotionally fragile woman recently released from a mental hospital for self mutulation 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 sociopathic 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:

 »
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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:

£829,624 (UK) (13 June 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the source story by Mary Gaitskill, the central character is Debby Roe, her employer is called only "the lawyer," and they live in Michigan. In the film, she is called Lee Holloway, he is called E. Edward Grey, and they live in Florida. See more »

Goofs

When Lee is being dried off by Mr. Grey, there are fewer scars and cuts on her torso than in the next shot, when he lays her on the bed. See more »

Quotes

[Lee reads in her head as she types in her typing class]
Lee: [voice-over] 'My flowers had just about given up in despair, so with the exception of a few potted plants from the florist, we're flowerless for the first Spring in years.'
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

I Will Survive
Performed by Cake
Written by Freddie Perren (as Frederick J. Perren) and Dino Fekaris
Courtesy of Volcano Entertainment III, LLC
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Intriguing story
17 June 2003 | by (Glasgow, Scotland) – See all my reviews

Secretary is the first of its kind - a very dark love story. First of its kind in that it deals with themes never seen before seen in mainstream Hollywood cinema - S&M, sexual dominance and submission.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is outstanding in a potential minefield of a role - she handles it with dignity and even provides some effective dark humour.

The story here is that her character, Lee, applies for a job as a secretary for the firm owned by James Spader's brilliant Mr Grey. However, Lee has a history of self-harm and masochism and Grey has a dominance complex along with a very sadistic streak. Combine these 2 in theory and you have 2 very happy people. But this is no ordinary love story...

Spader, as stated, is brilliant. He brings an icy steel to the troubled Grey, but also provides a touch of black humour which comes at some great moments to 'release the tension'.

For the themes supplied here you'd probably expect a lot of raunchiness - well there are sexual moments, of course, but there is nothing gratuitous, which is in itself an achievement and well handled.

Overall it's quirky, off-beat, and a little bit different.

Worth a view.


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