7.0/10
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406 user 169 critic
Trailer
0:59 | Trailer

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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
1,211 ( 174)
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

Despite her character struggling to lift heavy objects and climb into a dumpster, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal had no trouble performing these tasks. See more »

Goofs

Lee is copying a one page document with the copier cover open. This might be okay if the page was positioned exactly right, but the page is in the middle of the glass instead of in a corner (which is usual) and after Grey tells her "good letter" she accidentally moves the page but continues copying. This would definitely result in askew copies with dark sections. 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

Spoofed in The Helix... Loaded (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Your Man
Performed by Leonard Cohen
Written by Leonard Cohen
Courtesy of Columbia Records and Sony Music Entertainment (Canada) Inc.
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The most original romantic comedy I've seen in YEARS! Highly recommended.
9 March 2004 | by InfofreakSee all my reviews

I may be a jaded old cynic but from time to time a contemporary movie knocks me off my seat. Recently there's been quite a few -'May', 'Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance' and 'Auto Focus' immediately spring to mind. 'Secretary' is another recent gem. This is the most original romantic comedy (very black, mind you) I've seen in YEARS! And for something which deals with a lifestyle alien to me (dominance and submission) it's surprisingly touching, and even managed to get me to shed a tear or two. I had previously enjoyed Maggie Gyllenhaal's supporting roles in 'Donnie Darko' and John Waters' 'Cecil B. Demented' (she played Raven, the make up artist - "Pain is pleasure! Slavery is freedom! Suicide for Satan!' remember?), but her performance here is first class and is guaranteed to turn her into a major cult figure if not an actual genuine STAR. I confess that I now have a major crush on her to boot (I'm sure I'm not alone!). James Spader is also very, very good. While I admired him appearing in Cronenberg's 'Crash' a few years ago most of his other film choices have been safe ones and to be honest I'd pretty much given up on him as an actor. But it just goes to show what an actor is capable of with an innovative script and a supportive director. It's really difficult imagining any other two actors playing these roles any better. In the supporting cast Jeremy Davies also surprised me. I'd been getting a bit tired of his crazy shtick in previous roles, especially his extremely irritating performance in 'The Million Dollar Hotel', but he did a much more subtle job in this movie, and it really worked for me. This is my first experience with director Steven Shainberg but I was impressed. I now want to try and see his previous movie, the Jim Thompson adaptation 'Hit Me'. I also look forward to his next movie, because if 'Secretary' is any indication of his talent then he's sure to come up with something very special. Highly recommend.


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