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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 »
Reviews
Popularity
1,274 ( 104)
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:

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:

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

The soundtrack includes a little-known Little Richard song, "Directly From My Heart to You," (a B-side that didn't chart when it was first released), which is playing early in the movie during Lee's sister's wedding reception. Interestingly, this song also appears in another film featuring actor Patrick Bauchau (Lee's therapist in the movie), the film "The Rapture" (1991). See more »

Goofs

At Lee's sister's wedding reception, Lee's dad is drinking a beer. As camera looks over his left shoulder, he drinks the rest of the bottle with his right hand and his thumb is below the neck of the bottle. The camera shifts to a front view, but although the motion was continuously covered, his thumb is suddenly all the way up the neck and almost touching his lips. 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 The Graduate (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

Directly from My Heart to You
Performed by Little Richard
Written by Little Richard (as Richard W. Penniman)
Courtesy of Virgin Records America, Inc./Ace Records Ltd./Blues Interactions, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Very original
17 April 2004 | by rbverhoefSee all my reviews

'Secretary' deals with a daring and original subject and does this in an effective and funny way. Its subject is sadomasochism, its genre is a romantic comedy. The secretary is Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who suffers from self-mutilation, her boss is Mr. Grey (James Spader), who seems the coldest man alive. When they are in the same room you feel that there is something there, they both feel it too. Since the movie opens with a certain S/M scene we already know that there is a point in the movie where the two must find each other and start the sadomasochism activities. I will not reveal how and when it happens, but the moment is great.

Saying too much about the story would spoil things. We laugh at the right times, which is a good thing. Considering the subject it is even hard to accomplish that since people who are not familiar with it laugh very easy when they see strange things. For most audiences the events will be strange. The original approach of the movie, the performances perfect for this movie, the funny moments and an ending that plays exactly as it should this is a good movie and one of the most original romantic comedies I have seen.


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