Monday, January 29, 2007


Romance of the week:


I like it in the movies when I see something that I haven’t seen before. I love a good romance as much as the next guy, and I love a good comedy probably more than the next guy, and I certainly enjoy dark humor way way more than the next guy, and the guy next to him combined. When you put them all together, you've got something - you've got SECRETARY.

SECRETARY is not widely known. It never got a wide release. However, it enjoys pretty substantial word-of-mouth promotion. It's probably best known for being the movie in which we discover that Maggie Gyllenhaal is a star! She'd had only small roles up till then and this is her first starring role. She makes good with it.

I suppose I should also mention (because I know you're going to click on the link above and check the movie out at the IMDB site before you decide to watch it, and figure it out anyway) that the other thing this film is noted for, is it's treatment of a dominant/submissive relationship. Now, I know you're probably thinking of all the perverse and obscene and demeaning and degrading and (did I mention?) perverse ways that this could go wrong. It's not like that. I suppose, in other hands, this would be kinky and sexy and perverted, yadda, yadda, yadda. But here it’s not. It’s just …….. interesting. Besides, this is not the main focus of the film.

Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a young woman with a laundry list of emotional difficulties. At the beginning of the film, she is being released from an institution because she has that particular disorder where she likes to cut herself (I did mention this was a comedy, right?). She hurts inside, and if she inflicts a wound she can see on the outside - and watches it heal - then she feels that she is healing on the inside. Now she is out and wants to start a new life. She can type, she can be a secretary.

James Spader plays a lawyer looking for a secretary. In fact he's almost always looking for a secretary. He's not very easy to work for. He's obsessive, he's demanding, he's compulsive, he's loony. He goes through secretaries like warm beer through a man with small bladder disease (?). He keeps a lighted sign outside his office advertising "secretary wanted" that he can light up in exactly the same manner that a motel would advertise vacancies. There’s something not quite right with him. They were obviously made for each other.

Despite some of the controversial themes, the story really is about two emotionally damaged people who come together, help each other cope with life, and then fall in love. It’s smart and funny, well written, well acted, and I think it will ultimately appeal to just about everybody. Here is why this should appeal to you.

  1. No animals were harmed during the making of this movie. No animals are in this movie. So if you’re an animal activist, you won’t be offended. I can’t guarantee the same for everyone else.
  2. C’mon! No animals harmed! Doesn’t that mean anything to anybody anymore??!!
  3. The main characters engage in office behavior that would, today, make you have to attend a special seminar. Nobody wants to have to sit through these seminars. They’re insulting and degrading, and take important and productive time away from work. Unless you want to go to these seminars, you had better watch this movie.
  4. It has a happy ending. For a while you’ll think that there’s no way there could be a happy ending – but you’ll be wrong.
  5. Forget what I wrote in #4. I’ve decided that I don’t want to give away the ending.
  6. In a typical romantic comedy, Two people meet, they like each other, and they fall in love but maybe don’t realize it (or maybe they do – doesn’t matter). One of them has a terrible secret the other can never know, that threatens to tear them apart. The other one finds out. It tears them apart. Then the one with the secret tries and tries and tries to get the other one back and make it up to them. They eventually do. Love conquers all. I would like to tell you that SECRETARY doesn’t fit into that stereotypic Hollywood formula – but I don’t want to give any more of the movie away. Look what I did in #4 for goodness sake!
  7. Film critic, Roger Ebert liked it. His review can be seen here.
  8. Besides, if you don’t like it, you can always say, “I told you so!” ….. and you know how I hate that.
  9. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.
  10. Don’t get any ideas around the office ……. Unless you want to have to attend that seminar we talked about.


At 8:21 PM, Anonymous JOE C said...

Now here is a movie I can get behind (and give a little slap). Great psychological investigation of the unorthodox relationship of two very interestingly distubed people.

I thought it quite romantic really. It is nice when two people so obviously suited to each other find each other, no matter how brief or long the encounter.

Kinda like 9-1/2 weeks, although Kim Basinger's character was much less committed (or commit-able).

At 5:44 AM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

I couldn't agree more!


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