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4,409 Ratings


Directed by Steven Shainberg
United States, 2002
Comedy, Drama, Romance


E. Edward Grey, a demanding lawyer, reluctantly seduces his secretary Lee Holloway, who was recently released from a mental institution to the care of her overbearing parents. Lee is turned on by Grey’s stern demeanour, and their employer-employee relationship becomes a sexual, sadomasochistic one.

Our take

Reclaiming kink for the United States of America, indie It-girl Maggie Gyllenhaal squared off against James Spader (Sex, Lies, and Videotape) in this brilliantly provocative romance about a strange sexual understanding. The film won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance—“for originality”.

Secretary Directed by Steven Shainberg

Awards & Festivals

Sundance Film Festival

2002 | 2 wins including: Dramatic (Special Jury Prize)

Independent Spirit Awards

2003 | Winner: Best First Screenplay

2003 | 2 nominations including: Best Feature

Critics reviews

Steven Shainberg’s directorial debut “Secretary” belongs to the same genre as, say, “The Wedding Planner” or “Maid in Manhattan”, but it is a far darker, kinkier affair than your average rom com.
June 23, 2003
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Whether or not you understand or respond to these characters’ specific kinks is beside the point. “Secretary” isn’t ultimately about spanking, submissiveness, humiliation, domination or shame — it’s too funny and delicate to be summed up so conveniently or judgmentally. 
September 20, 2002
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