One of this year’s favourites at Sundance “Secretary” is a concoction of sexual perversion, self-mutilation and romance. Ultimately, it’s a blend that doesn’t ring true for its audience.
Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is fresh out of an institution, where she was trying to overcome her love of self-mutilation. Far from fully recovered, the loose cannon applies for what she believes is the start of a great career – a secretary position working for a slippery, equally cockamamie being, Lawyer, E.Edward Grey (James Spader).
Berated for her negligence and tousled behaviour, Lee, soon finds herself doing unbecoming tasks at her boss’s pleasure. But as soon as Grey begins to stop shovelling out the abuse on her bottom, Lee begins to linger for it again – almost pleading her boss for a bit more of a whack where it hurts.
Ultimately, “Secretary” is a bizarre flick. It moves a little apprehensively between comedy, drama and then, erotic romance, with the central players’ excellent performances (especially newcomer Gyllenhaal) suffering because of the film’s indecisions. If it were a showreel to promote the talents of it’s male and female leads it would have delivered and then some – but instead it’s a film that’s supposed to entertain it’s diverse audience, which, at the end of the day, it doesn’t do a great job of.