Inevitably marketed as being a titillating kink-fest, Steven Shainberg’s 2002 indie film was at reality a smartly layered emotional drama – those viewers used by the poster image of this stockinged feet and shapely posterior of a mystical high heel-wearing seductress would get a little bit of a surprise.
Stockings, high heel pumps and intimate adventurousness did certainly play a main component in Secretary’s plot, but more as a method of exploring the damaged psyches of the two primary figures than arousing boyish excitement with its market. The storyline follows Maggie Gyllenhall’s name character, an outcaste that is social self-harmer, as she gets work for – and promptly embarks on a relationship with – a legal professional played by James Spader (who, having additionally starred in Sex, Lies and Videotape and Crash, has quietly amassed his very own impressive oeuvre of thoughtful movies about intimate compulsion). This isn’t your Hollywood that is typical romance: in the place of swooning and sweet nothings we have mousetraps, whips and a myriad of erotically-charged humiliations.
The pair’s burgeoning BDSM relationship is presented as unabashedly bizarre – and without any small humour – but in addition as heartfelt and sweet, some sort of treatment when it comes to two emotionally stunted people who correspondingly harbour buildings about power, pity and transgression. Continue reading “Secretary (2002)”