User Score
8.3

Universal acclaim- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 40 out of 44
  2. Negative: 2 out of 44

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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.