I'm your secretary.
A review by Mike Shea Movie Rating: ( * * * · · ) DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )
There is little doubt. Secretary is a movie for a very select audience. I'm not talking about closet pervs who like watching a secretary get spanked because of spelling errors, but people who like simple independent movies that try to show lives you can't really understand yourself. Secretary is a great movie, but not for everyone.
The only other person I know personally that saw Secretary said it was like watching a dog get run over over and over again. While aspects of it were funny, the rest of it was far too disturbing. How could a woman allow that to happen to herself? If the roles were reversed, would they be asking the same question? They may think the guy is a bit light in the loafers but they wouldn't feel sorry for him. In Secretary, most people can't distinguish between consensual discipline and rape. To see a woman so abused is horrible to see, even if she does want it. For this reason, it is not a movie for everyone. You have to have a pretty open mind to really enjoy the movie.
After one of their regularly scheduled red-marker spelling error sessions, Mr. Grey (Maggie Gyllenhaal). "I do not know why I do the things I do. I am sorry." the note says (my quote, not direct). While he seems to be one of the most abrasive and commanding bosses we have ever seen, we cannot help but sympathize for him. He does far more damage to himself internally than he does to our heroine externally. What he never seems to quite understand is that it is exactly what she wants. She doesn't do it because she cannot get away, she does it because she likes it. This is what he never seems to quite understand, and it is a subtlety in the movie that helps drive it.
The DVD of Secretary is not bad at all. It has a 1.85 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a directors commentary. The commentary, a joint track done with the writer and director, is quite interesting to listen to.
It is definitely a good thing that the budget for this movie was so small. The audience for it is probably a lot smaller. Some sex-starved college kids might give it a look but they won't understand 3/4 of the picture. Most of the mainstream audience will throw it away in disgust. There are a few of us, however, who liked the picture for what it was.