Yeah, I went a little hard last night, so I'm taking it easy on this particular day. For those of you who are worried I might not make it out tomorrow, please place your concern in a more appropriate location. I finally got around to renting Secretary, starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. It won a prize at the 2002 Sundance Film festival for writing. Lion's Gate's (the distributor for the film) own synopsis of the film is rather bland and misleading:
- Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has a few strikes against her when she applies for a secretarial position at the law office of E. Edward Grey (James Spader). Although she’s never had a job in her life, Lee is hired by the mysterious lawyer, Mr. Grey. At first the work seems quite normal – but soon, in between typing, filing and making coffee, Lee and Mr. Grey embark on a more personal relationship, crossing lines of conduct that would give any human resource director the vapors!
Sounds quirky and fun! Hell, my parents might even rent it from that description. And, frankly, even though I'm a Spader fan (especially Sex, Lies and Videotape for which he won a richly deserved Best Actor at Cannes, and Steven Soderbergh took away his first Palm D'or), the description didn't exactly have me panting at the ticket counter or impatient for its DVD release. It wasn't until I happened upon this trailer that I became intrigued.
Lee Holloway's "few strikes" include a recent trip to the mental hospital for self-mutilation (a condition she's been doing since 7th grade) and a severely dysfunctional family. The mysterious Mr. Grey is that way because he hides his fetishes just barely beneath his tense surface, one of which is being something of a sadist. Basically, this romantic comedy is about two people who embrace their fetishes through each other. Not exactly easy to write up to sell to the public, is it? Even the trailer only hints at the erotic S & M scenes, and they are there.
I loved this movie. The acting is clearly the strongest point of this movie, without which the premise might turn into some kind of farce. Both leads are superb, and I was quite moved by the end (no spoilers here, but how many 'romantic comedies' end up with an unhappy ending?).
And it is a comedy to boot. The brief scenes where Maggie goes in search of another dominator to replace Mr. Grey is a reminder that dating is doubly hard (and funny) when you know exactly the kind of spanking you want. One scene manages to turn a standard after sex encounter with Maggie (who is starting to embrace her masochist fantasies) and her boyfriend on its' head:
- Peter: Did I hurt you?
Lee: (dejected) No.
This movie gets a big thumbs up. Now to watch the commentary and chow on Taco Bell.