DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Secretary (2002)

Soon Lee gets spanked for her typos and their game evolves from there.

Published on July 29, 2008

Secretary (2002)
Secretary (2002)

Starring: James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Director: Steven Shainberg
Studio: Lionsgate
Video: Enhanced for 16:9 widescreen
Audio: English Dolby Surround
Subtitles:, English, Spanish
Extras: Commentary track by director and writer of screenplay, Behind-the-Scenes featurette, Photo Gallery
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: *****

Lee, who lives at home with her squabbling parents, has been released from a mental facility after ineffective treatment for her self-mutilating propensity.  She takes a typing course and ends up applying for a secretarial position at the not-very-busy office of attorney Mr. Grey.  The lawyer has a very elaborate sign with lights proclaiming “Secretary Wanted,” which suggests that he has run thru quite a few of them.

Things start out between the two a bit strained, but nothing like what they eventually develop into.  He circles her spelling errors in letters she types with big red permanent Pentels. He recognizes her submissive personality and takes advantage of his dominant leanings (which might have been responsible for all the past secretaries leaving suddenly).  Soon Lee gets spanked for her typos and their game evolves from there.

Mr. Grey fights his kinky tendencies by firing Lee, and they are both devastated.  She accepts a sudden marriage proposal from  her ordinary boyfriend but while being fitted with her wedding dress realizes what she really wants and runs back to Grey’s law office.  He has a very rigid test for her which soon involves all her friends and relatives plus the local media. This part seemed improbable and a denial of their quirky secret, but it’s still a hilarious and very thoughtful tale that certainly can’t by accused of recycling old plot ideas.  Spader and Gyllenhaal are perfect for their parts and convey a world of emotion and feelings with just a glance or a tiny action. Be advised this is not a family movie, with – as the R rating says – “Sexuality, Nudity, and Depiction of Behavioral Disorders.”  The commentary track is one of the most interesting I’ve sampled. The music score is by Angelo Badalamenti, who did Twin Peaks.

 – John Sunier

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