Re-Watched Secretary

Watched Secretary from

Secretary is a movie starring James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jeremy Davies. A young woman, recently released from a mental hospital, gets a job as a secretary to a demanding lawyer, where their employer-employee relationship turns into a sexual, sadomasochistic one.

Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader are great in this. Lee’s earnestness and drive to go after what she wants stay throughout as her growing confidence transforms her self-protective slouch to a languid sexuality. Edward’s struggle with self control and self loathing comes through – I had to laugh at the moment he catches himself on the doorframe, at war with himself, which reminded me of my favorite music video.

Structurally, this is a romance, although it breaks a romance “rule” by having a competing relationship. The beginning was harder to watch than I remembered, Lee younger than her years and so fragile though trying so hard, but it makes her growth that much more powerful. The “meet-cute” / interview is painful.

I really liked “the ordeal” at the end, where Lee must exert and affirm her own wishes and we (and the hero) see the strength of her resolve.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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