Secretary (2002)

Inevitably marketed as a titillating kink-fest, Steven Shainberg’s 2002 indie film was at fact a smartly layered emotional drama – those viewers used by the poster image for the stockinged feet and shapely posterior of the mystical high heel-wearing seductress would get a little bit of a surprise.

Stockings, high heel pumps and adventurousness that is sexual certainly play a main component in Secretary’s plot, but more as a method of checking out the damaged psyches of their two primary figures than arousing boyish excitement with its market. The tale follows Maggie Gyllenhall’s name character, an outcaste that is social self-harmer, as she gets work for – and promptly embarks for a relationship with – a legal professional played by James Spader (whom, having additionally starred in Intercourse, Lies and Videotape and Crash, has quietly amassed their own impressive oeuvre of thoughtful movies about intimate compulsion). This isn’t your Hollywood that is typical romance: instead of swooning and sweet nothings we have mousetraps, whips and a range of erotically-charged humiliations.

The pair’s burgeoning BDSM relationship is presented as unabashedly strange – and without any small humour – but in addition as heartfelt and sweet, some sort of treatment for the two emotionally stunted humans who correspondingly harbour buildings about energy, pity and transgression. Read more ›

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