Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson (Screenplay) Mary Gaitskill (Story)
Starring: James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Davies, Lesley Ann Warren, Stephen McHattie, Patrick Bauchau
Plot: 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.
Tagline – Assume the position.
Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Strangely Intriguing
Story: Secretary starts as young woman Lee Holloway (Gyllenhaal) gets released from mental home after her self-harming went too far, released to attend her sister’s wedding, she returns to her self-harming techniques, not in a suicidal way though. Wanting to be part of the world Lee gets her first job as a secretary for lawyer Mr Grey (Spader).
Working for Mr Grey gives Lee a new lease for life, she stops self-harming, while letting Mr Grey giving her the punishment she desires.
Thoughts on Secretary
Characters – Lee Holloway is a troubled young woman, she has been self-harming for years now, it has put her in a mental home for a time too, now she is ready to enter the world to have a normal job. She gets obsessed with BDSM which her boss punishes her with, the one thing that stops her self-harming. Mr Grey is the lawyer that Lee starts to work with, he demands the best from his secretary and doesn’t mind giving her punishment to make her better, he hides from problem clients and seems to live a lonely life. Peter is the potential new boyfriend for Lee that tries to have a normal relationship, while she is on her own voyage of self-discovery.
Performances – Maggie Gyllenhaal is fantastic in the leading role, she is by far the star of this movie and showed us all the abilities she had in the acting field. James Spader is great too, he has always been able to walk into these types of roles well.
Story – The story here follows one woman that wants to find comfort in the world, where the only comfort she has had before has come from her own self-harming, she has problems which will be getting fixed as she enters the real world. this shows how mental illness can create a way for voids to be used to help create moments of peace in lives. This does give us the important discussion to be made, which is fine because people need help to understand the problems people can be fighting with.
Comedy/Romance – Certain moments do have a comical tone to them, while the romance of the film is mostly about how Lee became obsessed with Mr Grey.
Settings – The film is set in a big American city which shows how the people in each life can have their own personal interests which can come off stranger from the outside.
Final Thoughts – This is a good movie that tackles mental illness that people are living with everyday, we have a brilliant performance from Gyllenhaal that put her name firmly on the map.
Overall: One to be watching.