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HD   R Closed Captioning

Steven Shainberg

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About the Movie

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 pain upon herself in various ways. Lee is hired as a secretary by E. Edward Grey (James Spader), a grim and ruthlessly efficient attorney who warns her that her work will be both dull and demanding. Lee takes to the job with genuine enthusiasm, and while she's recently acquired a new boyfriend, Peter (Jeremy Davies), she's far more intrigued by Grey's coldly patrician demeanor. While Grey often criticizes Lee, she seems to thrive on his abuse, but one day he crosses a line when he insists upon spanking her after some minor mistake. Lee quite enjoys the treatment, and wants it to continue, but Grey can no longer take pleasure humiliating Lee when he knows that she likes it; he fires her, despite her pleas to be allowed to stay. Finally discovering the key to her sexual and emotional needs, Lee tries to persuade Peter to be rough with her, but he simply doesn't have the taste or talent for it, and Lee soon maps out a last-ditch effort to win back her position with Grey, whatever the cost. Secretary won a special award for "Originality" at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 147
  • Fresh: 111
  • Rotten: 36
  • Average Rating: 6.8/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Secretary is just too original to be ignored. – Mike Clark, USA Today, Jun 24, 2010

Rotten: It provokes nothing but yawns, and the sex it explores is stuff everybody knows about and says, 'So what?' – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 2, 2002

Fresh: Depending upon your reaction to this movie, you may never again be able to look at a red felt Sharpie pen without disgust, a thrill, or the giggles. – Ty Burr, Boston Globe, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: I don't know about you, but I found all these outrageously romantic maneuvers both funny and endearing. – Andrew Sarris, New York Observer, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

One of Maggie Gyllenhaal's best films!In of need of a spanking for great acting!

I love this movie so much that it never gets boring for me.It is sexy,seductive,and dark,which makes it so erotic.Maggie and James Spader are classic in this movie. If you are into dark and sexy comedies or just a major James Spader fan/Maggie Gyllenhaal fan then you should buy this film! The rest of the cast is superb as well.

You'll Be Surprised

You'll be surprised at how good this film is. It is totally quirky and things happen that you are just not really expecting to happen. Don't be frightened by the BDSM label. It is a great movie and dare I say even comical in places. The acting is amazing and actually, while I don't really know a lot of people into BDSM, these characters seem so much more real than your normal Hollywood fare, probably because they aren't completely "normal." I probably wouldn't want to be watching this film with a 16-year-old kid sitting next to me, or my parents, but if you are an adult, I'd say check this one out!

THIS is why we will ALWAYS need INDIE films

Brilliant film, iPod screen a bummer for Maggie's nude scene though...

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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Romance
  • Released: 2002

Customer Ratings

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