Secretary is a 2002 black comedy film based on the novella Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill. It was directed by Steven Shainberg and stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader.
Lee Holloway (Gyllenhaal) has recently been released from a mental institution after her penchant for self-mutilation resulted in a near-fatal injury. Determined to adjust to society, she learns to type and is hired as secretary to tightly wound attorney E. Edward Grey (Spader). Grey's obsession with his employee's meticulousness turns out to be a boon to both of them, as what initially was a rather strained professional relationship becomes both closer and more personal as it progressively takes on greater BDSM elements. Lee becomes the picture of sexual awakening, eventually forming a healthy, normal relationship with Mr. Grey that works for them.
This film makes great strides for open-mindedness toward adult sexuality-- as Freud once said, "the only abnormal human sexual behavior is none at all." Perhaps even more importantly, Secretary represents the new idea of feminism; although Lee is submissive in a sadomasochistic relationship, she is an equal partner in what becomes a loving, healthy partnership which fulfills both Lee and Mr. Grey. She does not need to be dominant to be empowered.
Tagline: Assume the position.
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References and further reading
- Erin Cressida Wilson, Steven Shainberg, Secretary: A Screenplay. Soft Skull Press, 2003. ISBN 1887128190.