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Secretary (2002)

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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.

Director:

Steven Shainberg

Writers:

Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay), Mary Gaitskill (short story) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
1,574 ( 289)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 15 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Spader ... Mr. Grey
Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Lee Holloway
Jeremy Davies ... Peter
Lesley Ann Warren ... Joan Holloway
Stephen McHattie ... Burt Holloway
Patrick Bauchau ... Dr. Twardon
Jessica Tuck ... Tricia O'Connor
Oz Perkins ... Jonathan
Amy Locane ... Lee's Sister
Mary Joy ... Sylvia
Michael Mantell ... Stewart
Lily Knight ... Paralegal
Sabrina Grdevich ... Allison
Lacey Kohl Lacey Kohl ... Louisa
Julene Renee ... Jessica
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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:

The story of a demanding boss and the woman who loves his demands. 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 October 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La secretaria See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$182,306, 22 September 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,059,680

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,304,609
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gwyneth Paltrow was originally cast in the role of Lee Holloway. See more »

Goofs

When Mr. Grey is typing his apology letter to Lee, his finger goes to hit the spacebar, but misses and he just continues typing. 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.
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Crazy Credits

The legal disclaimer has typing errors:
  • "fictitious" is misspelled "ficticious"
  • "unintentional" is misspelled "unitentional"
  • unauthorized use of the film is warned as resulting in "civil liberty" instead of "civil liability"
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Connections

References Four Rooms (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Georgina
Performed by Iffy
Written by Pederson, Merkl, Kirk Johnson
Courtesy of Foodchain Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
More tease than strip
13 October 2004 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

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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