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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: 151
  • Fresh: 115
  • 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

will pull on your leather heart strings!

this is a cute and funny movie, reguardless of your feelinds towards bdsm. 2 people with their own issues find eachother, and through their relationship, they provide balance. it's funny, it's charming, and it's a sort of twisted cinderella story. but cinderella enjoys a good spanking.

A kinky delight

Definitely not for the faint of heart, but an absolutely fantastic film!


this movie is kind of an underground. i caught it on tv one late night and decided to continue watching. the beginning is sad and makes you wonder if Lee can make it throught life. i love the dark comedy and romance mixed with "sickness" lol i'm sure if you give it a chance you will fall in love. but this movie isn't for everyone.

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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Romance
  • Released: 2002

Customer Ratings

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