Secretary - Lilith Likes to Watch
"I've been doing it since 7th grade."
I've been promising this review for months, so no preamble, let's just get into it.
Secretary is a movie I have personal conflict with. It's one of the movies that explains a lot of things about me. If Bram Stoker's Dracula was a catalyst for pre-pubescent Lilith, then Secretary was a highlighter. But at the time of my first viewing, I didn't like the film. It made me uncomfortable in ways I didn't understand.
I think part of my problem is James Spader. I never really understood where he was coming from. He was this weird twitchy, sweaty guy with very little charisma and no charm. The casting was just off for me. Imagine, you will, Micheal Keaton.
Edward, in the movie, obviously has a history of trying to find the perfect submissive. His first secretary failed, and his ex wife comments on how submissive Lee is. So why is he so flummoxed around her? I guess I'm missing something but it just doesn't ring true to me.
|So much said without a single word.|
Maggie Gyllenhaal, likewise is kind of plain and mousy but in her case that was the point. Lee finds herself, her determination, her confidence, through their little escapades. Gyllenhaal carries this entire film, subtle expressions in her eyes and face communicate everything she needs to.
It's not a particularly pretty film. The lighting and camera work is all flat and there's only one or two really striking shots. The costuming and set design do a lot of work and the blocking is good at times. The single continuous shot of Lee in the opening of the film is good but there's no real interesting colour except for a dream sequence and Edward's little garden. The film randomly slows down and the shot turns graney for emphasis or memory. There's nothing spectacular, so you watch it for the plot and performances.
|A nice shot.|
|It's too perfect.|
I don't know what more I can say. As I grow as a person, my enjoyment of this film grows with me. I've seen it 3 times now and I like it more each time. It still has flaws which I don't think I'll ever understand but it's a unique film that feels ahead of its time. If you haven't seen it, you should. What 50 Shades gets wrong, Secretary does right. And it did it first.
Best Moment: The bathing scene.
Worst Moment: The unclear motivations of Edward Grey's character.
LILITH'S SCORE: 4/5
NEXT TIME: I might take a little break. I might not. Either way, the next movie is The Handmaiden.