Steven Shainberg must think the inequitable plight of women in the workplace is pretty funny. The poster for this film is basically just the ass of a bent-over secretary. The tag line is "Assume the position." Maybe Shainberg's secretaries have been old hags and he's feeling neglected, so he's putting out the call for masochistic secretaries.
There's no way that a film titled "Secretary" about a dysfunctional female masochist who falls in love with her sadistic boss isn't a metaphor for the plight of women in the workplace. The fact that these two dysfunctional characters find each other and discover fulfilling love is irrelevant. The message is clear: Women just need to learn to like abuse. Bosses are abusers. Women are abusees. Learn to love it and you'll be much happier.
You see, Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) gets out of psychiatric care and decides to get a job as a secretary. Never mind that she's still cutting herself. Then again, her mother is the ever-cheery Leslie Ann Warren. Who wouldn't cut themselves? What she finds at her first job is a boss, Mr. Grey (James Spader), who's abusive in a way that borders on criminal. However he's just weird enough to make you suspect that his abuse is sexually charged and he's not particularly proud of it. Luckily for him, Lee gets turned on by the pain. What follows is the most twisted mix of business and sex since Jack Welch bent the editor of the Harvard Business Review over his G.E. trophy case and showed her what an "in depth" interview was all about. What sort of male wet dream is this film? Am I actually supposed to be happy for these two people? And are we supposed to feel sympathy for Mr. Grey because he's not that comfortable with his behavior? How exactly has this guy avoided a sexual discrimination lawsuit anyway? Basically, what men like Shainberg need is for somebody to bend them over a desk. After a few rounds on the receiving end of the Jack Welch interview process, I'll bet he'd find the whole phenomenon a lot less hilarious.
To spread the word about this Secretary review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.