Spanks for everything

Movie: Secretary

Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
Studio: Lions Gate Films
Release Date: 2002-10-18
Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Spader, Lesley Ann Warren, Jeremy Davies, Patrick Bauchau
Director: Steven Shainberg
Screenwriter: Erin Cressida Wilson, Steven Shainberg
Music Score: Angelo Badalementi
WorkNameSort: Secretary
Our Rating: 3.00

Young, mousy and just released from a mental institution, Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) hasn't quite shaken her dangerous hobby of self-mutilation. What she needs is a job -- her first ever -- to take her mind off her box of skin-puncturing tools and put her on the path to normalcy. How about performing clerical duties for a sadistic lawyer who demands perfectly typed letters but secretly craves a tender young booty to spank? It's her perfect gig.

In its first hour, "Secretary" seems a wicked satire of the masochism that binds office workers to their employers: Lee's boss, Edward Grey (James Spader), eyes her flesh like Dracula ogling Renfield's paper cuts. But as our heroine finds her sexual emancipation in taking swats from the old man, the film assumes a serious (and seriously absurd) pro-S&M stance it's up to the skilled leads to sell. Gyllenhaal's deep yearning buttresses the film's swiss-cheese argument that pain opens the door to real feeling, and that Lee and Edward are sharing a love that's right for them. Less daring viewers will note a parallel to the therapeutic properties of beating one's head against a wall. After all, it feels so good when you stop.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.