Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) has a few strikes against her when she applies for a secretarial position at the law office of E. Edward Grey (James Spader). For starters, she was released only recently from a mental institution.
However, she gets the job anyway and soon learns that Mr. Grey is not your average boss. Eventually, they begin a relationship, crossing lines of conduct that would give most human resource directors the shivers.
Based on a critically acclaimed short story "Secretary," by Mary Gaitskill, the exquisitely honed character development of Secretary lures us to the darker side of human sexuality, all the while warming us up to the idea that people are getting--and giving--what they want.
While it toys with society's expectations of love, Secretary also explores the delicate balance between pain and healing, control and surrender. It could never be labelled old-fashioned but, when all is said and done, Secretary is, at its core and undeniably, a love story.
What the critics are saying:
"The movie enters a realm where few non-porn films venture, and comes across as darkly funny, energetic, and surprisingly gentle."- James Berardinelli, Reelviews"The director, Steven Shainberg, has succeeded by focusing intently on his characters, making them quirky individuals rather than figures of fun."- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times"...neither particularly pleasant nor dreadfully painful - just numbing. Which, given the subject matter, is ironic as well as frustrating."- Nev Pierce, BBCi
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It's not without its flaws but Instructions Not Included is a funny, warm-hearted little film that deserves a bigger audience than its inevitable art-circuit release will grant it. Read More »
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