Secretary (2002)

Equally, An unflinching look at mental illness and A testament to the healing power of connection and kink.

Regan Humphrey

Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a recently discharged psychiatric patient, is trying to re-acclimate to home life—with moderate success. Her father’s alcoholism still drives her anxiety up a wall. A boy from high school asks her out, but doesn’t excite her. Looking for stability and purpose, even with no prior experience or education, Lee applies to be the secretary of E. Edward Grey (James Spader), an eccentric and remote attorney. Soon after hiring her, Grey discovers her self-harm habits, commands Lee to stop hurting herself, and unwittingly begins a command and obey dynamic between them that changes their professional relationship into a sexual and ultimately, romantic one.


Soundtrack: 10%
Story: 100%
Writing: 80%
Diversity: 50%
Daring: 100%
Racism: PRESENT — 10%
Gender Bias: ABSENT 0%
Homophobia: ABSENT 0%

Before Fifty Shades, Secretary (2002) was the official cinematic nod to BDSM and relationships on the border of pain and pleasure. This film expressed a natural progression from professional to romantic, but didn’t involve the same presentations of consent present in more recent films involving relationships on the kink spectrum.

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