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The Secretary

Maggie Gyllenhaal  Actor James Spader  Actor Jeremy Davies  Actor Lesley Ann Warren  Actor Stephen McHattie  Actor


MPAA Rating: R
Contains:Nudity,Adult Situations,Strong Sexual Content,Not For Children,Profanity

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The Secretary

Theatrical Release Date: 2002 09 20 (USA - Limited)

UPC: 658149100077

Studio: Lionsgate

MPAA Rating: R   Contains:[Nudity, Adult Situations, Strong Sexual Content, Not For Children, Profanity]

Summary: 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. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Category: Comedy Drama

Awards: Special Dramatic Jury Prize for Originality – Sundance Film Festival Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical – null Best Actress - Runner-up – National Society of Film Critics Breakthrough Performance - Female – National Board of Review Best Actress – Independent Spirit Awards Best Picture – Independent Spirit Awards Best First Screenplay – Independent Spirit Awards Best Actress - Runner-up – Toronto Film Critics Association Most Promising Performer – Chicago Film Critics Association Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical – Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Features: Writer and director commentary
Behind-the-scenes featurette
Photo gallry

The Secretary

Format: Blu-ray

Release Date: 03/06/2012

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Alternate Wide Screen

Audio: DHMA

Runtime: 111 Minutes

Sides: 1

Number of Discs: 1

Language(s) English

Subtitles: English,Spanish

Sarah Sloboda

Maggie Gyllenhaal's first starring role provides her with the opportunity to explore a rather demanding character, which she performs with depth and humor in Secretary. As Lee Holloway, she portrays a young woman with a strange addiction to pain, but remains engaging and easily empathized with. Lee's endeavors in the "real" world, after a youth with an emotionally disruptive family life, prove to be a bizarre representation of one's willingness to comply, in order to fulfill one's desires. By taking a secretarial job with E. Edward Grey (James Spader), she learns that taking orders is not only within her capacity as an employee, but in fact, serves a higher purpose for the whole of her person. Gyllenhaal makes magic as Lee, with a blatantly erotic upward gaze somehow innocent enough to leave both Mr. Grey and the audience wondering whether Lee -- or Gyllenhaal herself -- is aware of just how hot she really is. Lee becomes both emotionally and physically charged by her encounters with Spader's Mr. Grey, who issues commands in an unbearably sexy low voice. Spader's attractive forcefulness equals Gyllenhaal's more vulnerable role in its effectiveness of characterization. Tenaciously exacting, Mr. Grey's affection for obedience turns darkly appealing when sexy Spader ruthlessly delivers his demands. This strong opposition might suggest issues of stereotypical gender roles, but the film does not presume to make generalizations. Instead, it speaks specifically of the circumstances within one unique relationship that will define itself by the needs of the two individuals involved, however disturbing they may be. Within the deep mental and emotional issues of a somewhat alternative relationship, director Steven Shainberg creates a careful balance of mood using well-timed humor to prevent getting bogged down by the severity of the story. Meanwhile, the film pushes the boundaries of the R rating by use of implication. The things it doesn't show explicitly -- like masturbation -- are more than hinted at, while not officially breaking any limits. Taking metaphor to the extreme, Secretary allows access to the laughter and the pain of love in raw form. ~ Sarah Sloboda, Rovi

Cast and Crew: Angelo Badalamenti  Composer (Music Score) 
Erin Cressida Wilson  Screenwriter 
Andrew Fierberg  Producer 
Amy Hobby  Producer 
Steven Shainberg  Director 
Steven Shainberg  Producer 
Steven Shainberg  Screenwriter 
Joel Posner  Executive Producer 
P.J. Posner  Executive Producer 
Jamie Beardsley  Executive Producer 
Michael Roban  Executive Producer 
Michael Boran  Executive Producer 
Maggie Gyllenhaal  Actor 
James Spader  Actor 
Jeremy Davies  Actor 
Lesley Ann Warren  Actor 
Stephen McHattie  Actor 
Patrick Bauchau  Actor 
Oz Perkins  Actor 
Jessica Tuck  Actor 
Amy Locane  Actor 
Mary Joy  Actor 
Michael Mantell  Actor 
Sabrina Grdevich  Actor 
Lily Knight  Actor 
Lacey Kohl  Actor 
Julene Renee  Actor 

Country: USA