Secretary (2002)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Maggie Gyllenhaal impresses in this romantic comedy with a kinky twist.


Movie Info

Sadomasochism provides the backdrop for a very unusual employer/employee relationship in this very offbeat romantic drama from filmmaker Steven Shainberg. Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a shy young woman, who, after a brief spell in a mental institution, is released in the care of her overprotective mother (Lesley Ann Warren) and hard-drinking father (Stephen McHattie). Hoping to make good on her own, Lee begins looking for a job, and in her free time indulges in her odd habit of inflicting … More

Rating: R (for strong sexuality, some nudity, depiction of behavioral disorders, and language)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Erin Cressida Wilson, Steven Shainberg
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 1, 2003
Box Office: $3.8M
Runtime:
Lions Gate - Official Site

Cast


as Mr. Grey

as Dr. Twardon

as Tricia

as Jonathan

as Lee's Sister

as Sylvia

as Paralegal Secretary

as Paralegal

as Louisa

as Jessica

as First Secretary

as Typing Teacher

as First Date

as Second Date

as New Secretary

as TV Reporter
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Secretary

All Critics (160) | Top Critics (40)

Absolutely terrific, tight, and focused filmmaking.

Full Review… | March 1, 2015
Antagony & Ecstasy

"Secretary" recalibrates the capabilities of meaningful romantic comedy - a "Pygmalion" variation that's stealthily tender, witty but never broad and scintillatingly erotic to the point of palpitations. Gyllenhaal and Spader give career-best work.

Full Review… | September 23, 2010
Suite101.com

Steven Shainberg maintains a level of erotic suspense and anticipation that his terribly empathetic characters fulfill with pleasantly surprising acts of physical expression.

Full Review… | June 25, 2010
ColeSmithey.com

A fascinating and eccentric character study, and study of unconventional relationships fueled by fetish...

Full Review… | April 29, 2009
Cinema Crazed

This S&M satire teeters on the verge of sleaze and exploitation but never descends into those domains due to Maggie Gyllenhaal's exquisite performance in a tricky role.

Full Review… | December 3, 2006
EmanuelLevy.Com

A twisted and very funny rethinking of the romantic comedy genre. Great performances by Spader and Gyllenhaal.

Full Review… | April 22, 2006

Audience Reviews for Secretary

Based on a short story, written by Mary Gaitskill, "Secretary" tells the story of a mousy young woman who wants to change her life after a lifetime of cutting and self-hatred. Enter her boss (Spader) who is happy to help her change her ways by taking advantage of her sexually, culminating in a sadomasochistic relationship. The film is a test for the audience, to see if you believe it's a love story between two people who want a sub/dom relationship pertaining to a romantic interest that incorporates mutual respect and love, or a story about a man dominating a woman. The former would be a complex and often accepted story, since Gyllenhaal's character has to persuade her paramour that that is indeed what she wants, and that public attention doesn't limit her affection. It's rather sweet in places, but very dark in others, earnest in its depiction of these kinds of sexual fantasies and their participants. It's a bold endeavor for director Shainberg, one that pays off inevitably.

FrizzDrop
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Quite a strange quirky film with a mix of drama and comedy. It won't be for everyone's taste but it does have some funny and weird moments in equal measure.

Deano78
Dean King

Super Reviewer

You can't praise this very unusual movie about an odd employer/employee relationship enough for blowing the dust off the general images of what love and sex have to look like. It is taking its characters and their desires seriously (while doing so with a good sense of humor), never judges or ridicules. That's so refreshing, charming and, yes, sexy, that you can't help but cheer for the unusual couple. Great acting, writing and direction make this an unforgettable experience. Certainly not a film for everyone, with its naughtiness and bluntness, but as always the conservative minds miss out the most anyway. Everyone else should be as fascinated and entertained by this as I was.

ironclad1609
Jens S.

Super Reviewer

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