DVD Review: “Secretary”

Wanna be my secretary?
Starring James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeremy Davies, Stephen McHattie, and Patrick Bachau. Directed by Steven Shainberg.


Lee Holloway (Gyllenhaal) has just been released from the mental hospital, just in time for her sister’s wedding. Faced with having to “grow up” and make something of her life, she takes a typing test and scours the newspaper for positions she can apply for. One such position is that of a secretary to E. Edward Grey (James Spader), a lawyer whose office is of Eastern influence. Holloway is unsure of herself, constantly making spelling errors and participating in masochistic behavior (which is what put her into the mental hospital). Realizing this Grey decides to discipline her, slowly entering her into the realm of S M.; Complications arise when best friend Peter (McHattie) begins dating her and she’s torn between him and her true love, Grey; meanwhile, Grey is afraid of falling in love with her.

Wow. What else can I say about this movie? I had always been intrigued by the trailer but again, hadn’t had a chance to see it until now. This is a vehicle for Spader as well as Gyllenhaal, both which give great performances of characters that you can empathize with. If the subject matter turns you off (how can you hate Gyllenhaal on all fours on a desk while Spader puts a saddle on her back?) the real core to the film is this: finding someone to love that understands how you love them. In a world where most relationships come off as blasé, it’s these quirky romance movies that show what I think is missing from other relationship movies: the absurdity of love. That absurdity is what makes love seem more real than when two people who look perfect get together and… you know the rest of the story. What is love without humor or flaws?

At least that’s my opinion. If you’re in for the mood of “quirky romance” (“A Life Less Ordinary” being on that list), rent this one.

Note: the DVD contains writer and director commentary, a behind-the-scenes feature, and photo gallery.