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Secretary

Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Leslie Ann Warren, Stephen McHattie, and Jeremy Davies
Directed by: Steven Shainberg
Rated: R

 


Secretary is refreshingly naughty! A masterpiece of a mind trip.

Could I love this film more? No. Two incredible talents emerge on the screen and collide in a synergism of abilities that make this film engrossing, mesmerizing and a cerebral trip to the darker side of the park.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is one helluva actor. I have been trumpeting this fact for some time. Not happy with the cookie cutter roles often given to the gals of glam Maggie bravely accepts roles that are meaty and showcase her tremendous abilities…here is no exception.

James Spader took a left off the generic film highway long ago and has never really looked back. Fans of his works sit idly twiddling their thumbs in anticipation for the next delicacy he'll find for us. If he's in it - it's worthy, wild and weird!

Secretary follows the love affair, if you will, of two odd people who are perfect for each other.

We begin the love story with a woman (we will meet as Lee Holloway in a moment) that is happily shackled. She's smartly dressed and apparently doing everyday secretarial work despite her handicap of neck and arm restraints.

Hey, buck up! This is a James Spader film so you knew it wasn't going to dance around the subject….

Cut to a mental institution six months earlier and the day sad little Lee Holloway is just being released. She has a problem with, er, um, for well, cutting herself a lot. When she "slipped" and almost did herself in…. the parents who are not quite Ozzie and Harriet ( Stephen McHattie and Leslie Ann Warren) mind you, decided it would be best to seek help. Now the dear girl is coming home.

Still feeling insecure about her desires for self-mutilation Lee focuses on learning a skill. She goes and studys typing. She excels in the field… on paper at least.

When she answers an ad for a secretary "position" at attorney E Edward Grey's (James Spader) office the two start a waltz of flirtations that is immediately obvious is a tad skewed.

Mr. Grey is something of a perfectionist. He can't stand typing errors you see. And while Ms. Holloway's speed is tippity top of the typist crest, she makes spelling errors that make the lawyer's office staff look lax. He has also started to notice Lee's multiple Band-Aids meant to hide her harmful habit.

His eyebrow raises and he slowly lets his true, darker, self be seen by the woman.

She could not be more receptive. Aha! She thinks [paraphrased] ," I enjoy a bit of consenual S&M."

When she gets so bold as to attempt to get her generic sex loving guy pal Peter (Jeremy Davies) into her world, she learns the truth about herself, her boss, and her heart.

James Spader is a bit of manly yum. Here he uses his patented glare and boiling sexuality to manipulate his mesmerized audience as well as the film de jour's pray (Lee /Maggie). He's a powerful actor and a fellow I would think about sporting shackles for myself....if he asked. He'd look adorable in a dollop of strawberry whipped cream no?

Maggie Gyllenhaal is wonderful. I can not get enough of her. This film will show the powers that be this chickbabe can handle anything she tackles with grace, range and unwavering perfection. Her brother, über cutey Jake aint so bad either ....what a talented family. You think they sit around on the holidays and spew out great lines from great plays or just stuff themselves like human ticks on a billion calories then half drunk on carbohydrates play rule -free charades like the rest of us?

This film is not for all. It focuses on a masochist and a soft-core sadist as it two-steps into, well, James Spader land. And as surreal as director Stephen Shainberg keeps his set E. Edward Grey and Lee Holloway are brilliantly brought to life and become warm entities thanks to Gyllenhaal and Spader. And they, together with their equally talented cast mates, Leslie Ann Warren, Jeremy Davies and Stephen McHattie, allow director Steven Shainberg to create a Naked Lunch for the small office world.

Secretary is fantastically different and mesmerizing to watch. The open-minded viewer - who can get the sex part out of their mind and watch the unique love story transpiring - is given a chance to see an incredibly bold script (based on a bold story by Mary Gaitskill) performed by two of our finest actors in a celluloid symphony of talent. Enjoy…and bring someone you've been meaning to seduce.

Snack recommendation: Three peas and two scoops of mashed potatoes for us and just a rounded dollop of strawberry whipped cream for Mr. Spader.

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