Secretary (2002) is a film directed by Steven Shainberg and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. In 2002 the film was winner of the Sundance Film Festival with the Special Jury Prize for originality in 2003 and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best actress (Maggie Gyllenhaal). The film was based on the short story by Mary Gaitskill Bad Behavior.
Lee Holloway is a shy and very uncertain young girl who suffers from her family situation. Her mother Joan (Lesley Ann Warren) is little understanding and her father Burt (Stephen McHattie) is alcohol addict who often gets violent failure. Is her way to deal with self-harm. Partly in order to obtain a certain independence and partly to escape the poor family life at home, she decides to go find a job as a Secretary. She is adopted by the eccentric lawyer e. Edward Gray. This is also evident with some difficulties. He is showing signs of compulsion neurosis, can come out of the corner and aggressive as a result of his recent divorce.
Edward turns out to be a very strict boss that Lee did not rebuke her, spares to criticize and punish even when they make mistakes in her work. However, Lee accepts his behaviour: they interpret it as a way of him to make her better in her work, whatever the case. Edward tries to help her by his strict performance of her shyness and uncertainty. When on a day at the Office can no longer boss Lee as the stress, she decides to cut themselves and is caught by Edward. That confronts her with the problem of self-harm and forbids her to ever to do yet. Lee who has someone for the first time in her life who understands her problem and also want to help do not know what is happening to her. She is extremely happy, sincerely the promises never to do and is hopelessly in love with Edward, who she considers her Savior now more like than her boss.
When Lee continues to make typos can check and submit his Secretary hard Edward his anger to a bodily punishment: he gives her different and pretty hard hits on her rear! Because the pain that Lee, David her before sexually than they are experiencing it as a punishment. They discovered that the spectrum of pain, that they already had explored through self-harm, on a ' healthier ' way can be. Also Edward could clog his sexual pleasure in this difficult incident. He has finally found a partner who can and even wìl fulfill his sexual desires. The two begin a sadomasochistic relationship with Edward as the dominant and Lee as the submissive.
There are some obstacles to overcome but the film ends with two happy married people who in their sex life have found an outlet for their suffering and grief. Lee is now become a confident woman and Edward a quiet man.
- Secretary won the Special Jury prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival