After Maggie Gyllenhaal’s latest Netflix release and directorial debut feature, The Lost Daughter, took viewers by a storm, yet another dark comedy has started streaming on the platform, demanding your unhinged attention.
Based on Mary Gaitskill’s eponymous controversial short story, the 2002 erotic black comedy romantic film Secretary, directed by Steven Shainberg and adapted by Erin Cressida Wilson, is now available for streaming on Netflix. The film attempts to normalise BDSM relationships, according to Shainberg, who derived immense inspiration from the 1980s film My Beautiful Launderette for normalising gay relationships.
With quite a few deviations from the original short story, Gyllenhaal stars as Lee Holloway, a woman from a dysfunctional family, who takes up the job of a secretary at a lawyer’s office after being released from the mental institution for self-harm.
Lee forges a bizarre relationship with her boss, Grey, who indulges in pet play and other sadomasochistic activities with her. Eventually, the power dynamic makes Lee fall in love with her boss and in the climactic scene, she shows immense self-restraint and obedience that melts his cold exterior, leading to an eventual happy ending.
Also starring James Spader as the boss with twisted desires, the film is sensitive in its treatment of the subject matter and does not make it offensive, deranged or funny.
The film is not for those who are easily offended or might get triggered watching such an explicit exhibition of the powerplay. Shainberg’s film is now available for streaming on Netflix.