Updated October 27, 2002
If Hollywood made a feel-good romantic-comedy about a couple who find true love in a D/s relationship that includes bondage and spanking, do you think it might win the award for originality at the Sundance Film Festival? Well, it did.
What do you think the critics would say about it? This is what they've had to say so far:
"Sadomasochism doesn't get much more life-affirming than it does in Secretary (Lions Gate), in which a young woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal) finds happiness in a master/slave relationship with her employer (James Spader). The movie is a romantic fairy tale of deliverance, a Pretty Woman for the bondage set."
"Most love stories are bland and generalized. This one takes you deep inside the dance. "
"Choosing to be enslaved can be delightfully freeing."
"With sheer originality and bold,unflinching humor, Secretary embraces a most unconventional relationship and lays open the notion that love doesn't always occur in the traditional fashion."
"Director Steven Shainberg performs a remarkable feat by taking what could be construed as weighty material and infusing it with sensuality and, even more surprisingly, humor. Based on a critically acclaimed short story "Secretary," by Mary Gaitskill, the exquisitely honed character development of Secretary lures us to the darker side of human sexuality, all the while warming us up to the idea that people are getting -- and giving -- what they want. While it toys with society's expectations of love, Secretary also explores the delicate balance between pain and healing, control and surrender. It could never be labeled old-fashioned but, when all is said and done, Secretary is, at its core and undeniably, a love story."
“Maggie Gyllenhaal gives an eye-opening performance of sensuality and sensitivity. A revelation!”
“A pleasingly twisted black comedy! Brave, goofy, and mind-bogglingly sexy, Maggie Gyllenhaal is an absolute revelation!”
“A deliciously perverse tale!”
“A funny and deeply moving love story. James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal are brilliant!”
“Maggie Gyllenhaal is a marvel!”
“Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a witty performance!”
“The sweetest romantic comedy about S&M since, well, ever. Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a flawless performance, sexy, troubling, awkward, and often hysterical.”
"Sexy and highly stylized!"
"Terrific! A film of startling humor! Spader and Gyllenhaal are electric!"
"A deliciously inventive comedy!"
"Smart and Funny...James Spader has never been better!"
"This riotously un-PC black comedy, directed by Steven Shainberg from a script by the playwright Erin Cressida Wilson, is based on a story by Mary Gaitskill in her collection Bad Behavior."