User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 72 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 56 out of 72
  2. Negative: 13 out of 72
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  1. Oct 7, 2012
    8
    Despite it's unusual skew, Secretary is actually one of the most romantic movies I've seen. Sure, the characters are complete S&M nutjobs, but hey, they need happiness too. It's also a fun ride from start to finish because you're never sure where Gyllenhaal's and Spader's relationship is going. I honestly thought he might kill her! Kudos to both the main actors for top-notch performances, too.
  2. Jul 21, 2012
    8
    In Secretary, Maggie Gyllenhaal gives the performance of her career as Lee Holloway, a meek and introverted young woman who gets a job as a secretary for an oddball small-time lawyer (James Spader), which leads to a less-than-conventional sexual relationship. It's a sweet and engaging tale of two cripplingly shy people, who are unable to communicate with each other at all other than thoughIn Secretary, Maggie Gyllenhaal gives the performance of her career as Lee Holloway, a meek and introverted young woman who gets a job as a secretary for an oddball small-time lawyer (James Spader), which leads to a less-than-conventional sexual relationship. It's a sweet and engaging tale of two cripplingly shy people, who are unable to communicate with each other at all other than though BDSM. The film insightfully discusses intimacy, desire, sexual fetishism and depression, and manages to strike just the right balance between darkness and light-heartedness in writer/director Steven Shainberg's brilliant screenplay and complex characterisation. Both Lee and E. Edward Grey are interesting, layered and fully-rounded characters with real (if unusual) chemistry, and it's genuinely involving to see how their relationship progresses and how they conquer their fears and evolve as people throughout the film. It is only the last few minutes of the film that the narrative begins to wobble, delivering an ending that is a little too slushy and formulaic for this otherwise pleasantly original film. Even with this jarring change in tone in the final act, Secretary is a quirky, well-written and entertaining comedy-drama that bravely tackles a taboo subject in a way that only independent cinema can. Expand
  3. Nov 13, 2011
    8
    Excellent movie! Didn't know what to expect when starting this film, however very pleasantly surprised. Gyllenhaal is amazing and so is Spader, their sheer intensity during some of the scenes makes you shudder. However, I believe that this film is a very powerful metaphor for finding oneself and true love, and can't be missed by the avid movie watcher. Especially someone who likesExcellent movie! Didn't know what to expect when starting this film, however very pleasantly surprised. Gyllenhaal is amazing and so is Spader, their sheer intensity during some of the scenes makes you shudder. However, I believe that this film is a very powerful metaphor for finding oneself and true love, and can't be missed by the avid movie watcher. Especially someone who likes Gyllenhaal from other pieces. The S&M is not pornographic, rather personal. I highly rate this film, good plot, fantastic characters and actors, excellent movie! Expand
  4. Sep 5, 2014
    5
    Well, as a secretary myself in an obscure company that makes bobble heads I can identify with the kind of situations this movie talks about. Having to retype a letter all day because I keep making mistakes because the only reason I have the job is because I'm pretty not because I'm able to do anything properly behind a desk is just like the movie. I also get my bottom smacked when I makeWell, as a secretary myself in an obscure company that makes bobble heads I can identify with the kind of situations this movie talks about. Having to retype a letter all day because I keep making mistakes because the only reason I have the job is because I'm pretty not because I'm able to do anything properly behind a desk is just like the movie. I also get my bottom smacked when I make mistakes. It happens at least once a week. Far from it being a crude sexist experience it can be the highlight of my day-especially when its done in front of other people with my skirt off showing my bum in pantyhose to anyone in the room while my boss fondles himself with his free hand. What more could a girl want. Expand
Metascore
63

Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 39
  2. Negative: 5 out of 39
  1. Lee's journey of the body and soul is something else. Maggie Gyllenhaal makes it strangely touching, a revelation.
  2. 40
    Not meant to be realistic; it was shot by the director Steven Shainberg in a slow, dreamy neo-De Palma style and in candy colors, and Gyllenhaal has a Kewpie-doll silliness that almost makes the naughty parts of the movie fun. [23 Sept 2002, p. 98]
  3. Secretary is deeply conventional: Edward and Lee accept their bondage as the way to a more fulfilling life. It's the filmmakers who need to be spanked.