View Full Version : Secretary

04-20-2003, 03:37 AM
Although it achieves a bit of a creepy eroticism towards the end, Steven Shainberg’s film, centered on the relationship between a submissive secretary (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her dominating attorney boss (James Spader), commits the cardinal sin of making kinky sex deadly dull and burdened with baggage. Though it’s intended to be paced at its own rhythms, it’s a slow-moving affair, filled with long pauses and open-ended questions meant to be suggestive but proving instead to be merely frustrating. Shainberg and screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson can’t seem to let their characters (based on a Mary Gaitskill story) be free and enjoy their perversions and they don’t do a decent job of at least explaining their motivations, preferring to intimate rather than elucidate (Gyllenhall’s father is an abusive alcoholic and her mother’s a nervous wreck but we know precious little about them other than they’re reasons for their daughter’s masochistic tendencies; and we learn nothing about the backstory behind Spader’s peculiarities) and arriving at the pedestrian conclusion that behind suburbia’s bedroom doors lie the odd sexual transgressions that keep everyone sane. The director and writer seem to be reaching for a profundity approximating David Cronenberg (indeed, Spader was cast in a similar but far more interesting role in “Crash”) but the material is much less complex than anything Cronenberg would appreciate. There’s very little of interest here although Michael Baker and Michael Murray’s decoration of Spader’s office has the intriguing look of an opium den.

04-22-2003, 01:52 AM
Secretary truly did unfold at its own pace, a pace that I thoroughly enjoyed and while my prurient nature wanted to see more action and sexual perversity such as can be seen in unrated movies, Secretary kept it tame and thereby allowing the audience to absorb the acting and more visceral experience of the behavior and emotions rather than the animal lust and cravings found in more simple and pornographic trash.

oscar jubis
04-22-2003, 09:36 AM
I also find myself in disagreement with bix. What he calls "the cardinal sin of making kinky sex dull and burdened with baggage" I call the unique chance to consider the arc of a relationship between people who need to engage in domination'n'submission games in order to fill a void. While flawed, SECRETARY makes acute observations about foreign terrain(to me) in a tone that is often refreshingly light. If anything, SECRETARY is the film that confirms Ms. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a major talent. For more detailed analysis go to www.filmwurld.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=386