The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Spanking was never sweeter than in Secretary

with 14 comments

A young woman walks around in an office, performing various office tasks. She would look as a ordinary secretary if it wasn’t for the one thing that she has to use her mouth to do everything since she her arms are locked up by a weird device. This doesn’t seem to bother her overly much.

In the next scene we see the same young woman six months earlier, as she returns to her dysfunctional family after having spent some time at a mental institution. It doesn’t take long before she has locked herself into her bedroom and brought out a box of tools which she uses to harm herself. Apparently this is not the first time.

This is not the sort of beginning I expect from a romantic comedy. But then Secretary resembles to nothing else in the genre.

The woman, Lee Holloway, excellently played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, takes a job as a secretary for a lawyer, played by James Spader. It doesn’t take long before we understand why this firm has such a turnover of employees that they have put up a permanent vacancy sign outside their door door. James Spader’s character is unpleasant, demanding, not to say cruel, and few people would tolerate being treated like that at work.

This secretary however is different. She doesn’t just endure being told off for making a mistake or wearing the wrong kind of clothes; she even seems to take pleasure in it, so much that she starts to make errors on purpose, in order to get attention. Step by step Lee starts to explore a sexual side of herself that she hasn’t been aware of until now. The question is if she can make her boss follow her down that road.

A transformation
As much as Lee goes through a transformation does the film and the viewer.  I went from worrying about her mental health and the risk that she might hurt herself, into cheering for her. You can’t mistake the triumphant look I Lee’s eyes as she’s crawling on her knees, carrying the mail in her mouth as if she was a dog. This is clearly something she needs to feel happy and fulfilled in her life. I even started to get a little annoyed with her object of affection for reacting so slowly to her invitations. How hard could it be to give her a little bit of spanking?

How weird as it sounds, Secretary is a sweet little story: sex positive, very funny and super kinky. You may not feel comfortable watching it with your parents or children though.

Secretary (Steven Shainberg, US 2002) My rating: 4/5

Written by Jessica

January 29, 2013 at 7:46 am

Posted in Secretary

14 Responses

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  1. I completely agree with pretty much everything you wrote. Some people never watch this because they just can’t deal with the concept, but for those who do see it most end up pleasantly surprised.

    Chip Lary

    January 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    • It took a little while to get used to and I have to admit that I raised my eyebrows at the beginning. But it really wins you over if you’re fairly openminded.


      January 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm

  2. Great write-up Jessica. I absolutely loved this film. In all honesty, I really didn’t know what to expect going into it but it totally took me by surprise. It’s one of those little cult gems that more people should see.

    Mark Walker

    January 29, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    • Thanks Mark! I’m glad – but not surprised – that you loved it too. I don’t know how well watched it is. I found it on Netflix, so it should be easily available.


      January 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

  3. One of my all-time favorite films. It’s just truly witty but also heartfelt for the way it explores a woman’s evolution from someone being troubled to finally having some control in her own life.


    January 29, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    • Yay! Yes, I think it really deserves praise since it feels as if it explores a new territory, bringing an angel to the genre that I’ve never seen before.


      January 30, 2013 at 6:48 pm

  4. So glad you liked ‘Secretary’. It was in my top 10 of the year it came out. I think that to give a sense of real humanity and understanding to the kind of relationship they have in the film was pretty ground breaking for a movie that really doesn’t hold many of the hallmarks of an “art film.”


    January 30, 2013 at 8:10 am

    • I really loved it! I have no idea how it classifies in terms of “mainstream” or art film. But I think it should work for a pretty wide audience, despite the odd topic.


      January 30, 2013 at 6:49 pm

  5. I liked this movie too. At first glance, the situation made me want to tear my tear out. A very vulnerable, troubled young woman gravitating toward a guy who gets turned on by dominating women. It felt undeniably icky to me, but by the end of the movie — for reasons you articulated — I had changed my opinion. I love a movie that challenges my point of view like this.


    January 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    • I agree with everything you say here. I was pretty uncomfortable to begin with, wondering how on Earth anyone could consider this romantic or funny. And then it won me over completely.


      January 30, 2013 at 7:38 pm

  6. […] Jessica caught up with SECRETARY this week and was taken with its mild kink. Bets on how long it takes her to crack a copy of […]

  7. Yay! You’ve watched it! It’s one of my fave films – and I’m sure I’ve said this before to you, it really does not do what it says on the cover of the copy I have! I don’t consider it a “romantic” movie, but I do consider it a love story on several levels, perhaps the most important one being her learning to love herself.


    February 23, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    • Indeed I watched it, and I think you contributed to it, giving me the recommendation. It was just as good as I had hoped.


      February 23, 2013 at 6:34 pm

  8. […] you want to see a movie about a less-than-ordinary romantic relationship, I urge you to watch Secretary. I’m probably not the first one to point it out, but I’ll do it anyway, since it […]

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