Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Secretary (2002)

IMDb plot summary: 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.
Directed by Steven Shainberg. Starring James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Davies, and Lesley Ann Warren.

This is certainly a nontraditional romance story, and by the time the credits rolled I wasn't quite sure I understood the dynamic between the characters or how I felt about it. So I let it sit for a day and googled some other people's thoughts on the movie in the meantime, finally coming to the conclusion that this is kind of an incredible movie.

It tells a unique and intriguing story with a lot of warmth, especially for a type of story that isn't typically treated as "warm." There's a lot more going on here besides just the surface dominant/submissive plotline -- it's not just a thinly-veiled excuse for kinky sex scenes, as it could have been. The movie's about exploration and uncertainty and self-discovery and trust and long-term love in a situation where neither person is entirely sure how to go about this.

I still think it's going to need to sit with me longer before I see where it settles, but it's impressive and fascinating and actually very sweet, and I feel like this is one that will keep rising in my estimation.

4 stars.

Flickchart: #439 out of 2278, below A Streetcar Named Desire and above Persepolis.

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