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.