Maggie Gyllenhaal is once again comfortable with her body in this film, which must make awkward viewing to Brother Jake at times.
briefly the story is about a female masochist who meets a male sadist, and they engage in some sort of complicit sex-games without actual consummation until the man decides to call a stop before the further emotional involvement. of course, the story is NOT that simple. that is the insensitive way to generalize the movie.
how about the sensitive way? an emotionally desolated woman walks out of asylum and all she finds is a mediocre home which doesn't offer her any light or hope, and she temporally dissolves all these problems by cutting herself just to feel alive. she's inconfident, un-self-assured, socially inadequate, escorted by mother and sister. her efficient typing ability is the only thing she truly takes pride in and her biggest aspiration in life is to become a secretary, a stepping stone for her indepedence.
then she meets an eccentric lawyer who has an odd perfectionist insistance to red-mark on anything! he has issues with women because of some hidden un-speakable irreconciled mental trauma inside him. he spots something in her that he could instinctually recognize and resonate. he coaxes her into not cutting herself by transferring her drive for self-multilation into a titilating game of sadomasochistic sexual foreplay without actual fonication. perhaps it is more positive to get spanked on the rectrum than use a knife to cut yourself. he just gratifies her need and her want to be punished! the only actual physical touch over there is the woman's hand moving slowly just to touch the man's fingers. somehow severely repressed people need extreme ways to relent their streams of emotions or lust.
if you see chloe, the atom egoyan movie, the scriptor is also erin cressida wilson, and that is a story about a call-girl looking for love in the most un-usual circumstance through cheating and lying...my point is erin cressida wilson writes stories of unusual romances on jaded, desperate, lonely people who look for love in various far-from-commonplace ways (wrong places by normal standards) because they're deprived of the capacity to obtain or feel love in the normal ways as the obstacles of their past bind them from experiencing usual empathy available to all. in two simple words: WEIRDO LOVE. but in this kind of romances, you find the most sincere sort of love since it transcends your commonplace, humdrum perceptions of love. those people are just like little fishes confined in a tiny plastic bag made of their emotional difficulties, but those little fishes just gotta smash their heads off to make a hole and escape out of the microcosmos of their little plastic bag to seek love and make love happening even at the end, the little fishes might die of drought. but they just have to love! isn't it romantic? (ok, that may be me who thinks in that way. maybe i'm twisted as well.)
here's some of the best dialogues from ERIN CRESSIDA WILSON:
"In one way or another I've always suffered. I didn't know why exactly. But I do know that I'm not so scared of suffering now. I feel more than I've ever felt and I've found someone to feel with. To play with. To love in a way that feels right for me. I hope he knows that I can see that he suffers too. And that I want to love him. "
"Is it that sometimes the pain inside has to come to the surface, and when you see evidence of the pain inside you finally know you're really here? Then, when you watch the wound heal, it's comforting... isn't it? "
It really shows what mental illness does to you and what a not normal working relationship looks like,
It was funny in a way. I think in is one of better films of the 2000's
If you want a film that in not in the norm of films or film that taking a look into mental illness you should give this a try.
For some reason, I don't find James Spader attractive. I think it's because he looks like Mayor Adam West from "Family Guy."
Shainberg has created a whole series of weird characters. Each and every one of the individuals we see in "Secretary" are a little bit touched and quite unhappy. Although we can consider "Secretary" as a comedy (a black humor comedy), thre're plenty of disliking sequences which Shainberg perfectly mixes with funny and crazy situations. And that's not easy to achieve: making a comedy out of people's disorders and life troubles may result in an unbalanced film: now you're laughing, and the second after you're terrified. But that doesn't happen in "Secretary", because even the toughest passages in the movie contain sort of a pathetic and freaky atmosphere that will prevent us from feeling sad about the characters.
As for the actors, the highly expressive face of Maggie Gyllenhaal contrasts with unexpressive James Spader. They're the absolute starrings in "Secretary", and they do it just great: Mrs. Gyllenhaal proves that she's a great actress and James Spader finally appears on a decent movie years and years after of his best achievement: Sex, Lies, And Video-tapes. Jeremy Davies makes a good job as Lee's border-line boyfriend, and veteran Lesley Ann Warren perfectly plays Lee's depressive and submissive mother.
To sum up. Not a film for everyone but if your interested in something a little different than usual then this a film worth checking out.
The movie turns out to be a love story -- albeit a somewhat unusual one. It is quite amazing to see Lee develop from an insecure girl to a woman who knows what she wants and is willing to fight for it.