Secretary: Assume the Position (2002)

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Comedy, Drama, Romance

Lee Holloway has struggled with cutting and self-harm, which landed her in a mental hospital. After getting released, she and her family would like her to find a job to help get back on her feet. Finding an opening at a small law office, she begins to work with the somewhat quirky Mr. Grey. He soon discovers Lee’s personal struggles and chooses to start taking advantage of their power dynamic. At times, he offers advice and tries to give her sound guidance. At other times, he scolds her and takes a sexually dominant position, which quickly begins to appeal to Lee. She continues to develop feelings for her boss, which only becomes complicated by juggling her relationship with a high school friend and taking the periodic abuse from Grey.

Starring: James Spader (Mr. Grey), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Lee Holloway), Jeremy Davies (Peter), Lesley Ann Warren (Joan Holloway), Stephen McHattie (Burt Holloway), Patrick Bauchau (Dr. Twardon)

Maggie Gyllenhaal appears very sweet and disturbed at the same time. She balances her personal pain with an innocent but obsessive relationship with James Spader’s character. It is evident that the two developed a strong chemistry off-camera which translated into the film. For Spader, his sexual dysfunction and dominant personality with his co-star mirror some of his work on Boston Legal. He both encapsulates and creeps out he viewer while he attempts to both take advantage of and restrain himself from using his power to dominate his employee.

This film takes a dark look at the concept of BDSM and office romance. In a very direct way, Lee’s replacement of cutting with sexual and social dominance served as a way to almost rehabilitate her after getting released from the hospital. Lee expressed a need to experience a simple job but quickly found herself drawn to the power presented by Mr. Grey. While it would be very easy to identify his behavior as sexual harassment, Lee used the interactions as ways to feel supported and directed (i.e. limitations on what she could eat and how she could be with him). While it is difficult to understand the actual actions and behaviors, the concept of seeking guidance and direction is more common than the movie may portray it.

The film has very dark humor and includes some rather confusing interpersonal relationships. It is a very intriguing story with some intense performances between Gyllenhaal and Spader.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5


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