This review first appeared on my Letterboxd account on August 3rd, 2017. A link to that is here. I am adding it to this blog as a sample of my work and because it’s one of the first honest pieces of film writing I was proud of. It’s rather informal- I have improved since then and I hope to keep improving along with all of you for the ride.
“You are the child of God’s holy gift of life. You come from me, but you are not me. Your soul and your body are your own, and yours to do with as you wish.”
I really never would have guessed that a film about sadomasochism would have literally the most unconventional, sexy, adorable, beautiful love story I think I’ve ever seen… I’m fucking obsessed. I LOVE everything about it. This film just works perfectly and I wanna thank everyone involved.
Secretary (2002) tells the story of an emotionally damaged woman named Lee and her new boss, the eccentric and insecure Edward Grey. Through trial and error, they develop a bond and take pleasure in their roles as the punished and the punisher. The film encorporates sexual taboo as part of a healthy relationship development and I feel like I understand the appeal behind dominant/submissive BDSM relationships a lot more than I did before.
Obviously if you’re easily shocked than I’d skip this one, though I now believe there’s probably a lot more people out there with the same fantasizes and lifestyles than I would have guessed. Since it is a film it is quite an idealized look into dominant and submissive roles that I’m sure are a lot more complicated when put into real life practice. But it helped me to understand that the pain people like Lee experience from their lives can be taken ownership of and accepted, twisted into a form of pleasure. I greately appreciated that it was made clear throughout Secretary that this was a game and that the characters respected each other’s boundaries and wishes.
The positive message that this film has about healing and acceptance was really overwhelming, and what makes it even better is that it’s wrapped up in something that’s largely viewed as dirty and disgusting, something to be hidden away and ashamed of.
I am a big fan of films that push boundaries and shock me, those weird diamonds in the rough that inspire me to think about things differently. I guess that’s why I have such a strong positive reaction to it. I feel like it was tailored just to my taste. Secretary is at the very least an intellectual stimulating film that I think anyone who watches it can learn something from if they’re willing to.