Probably one of the best BDSM movies is Secretary. It stars actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader as the characters Lee Holloway and E. Edward Grey. There is so much I love about this movie: the quotes, the horse scene, and the deeper meaning of pain explained. Here is my review and why it’s one of the best BDSM films out there (and also where to watch it right now).
Here’s a little synopsis first: Secretary is a 2002 Indie film that explores the relationship between a dominant lawyer and his submissive secretary.
1. The movie “Secretary” explores the issue of self harm with realistic characters
After I had seen the trailer for the movie I just assumed it was about a kinky boss. I didn’t know anything about Lee being a cutter. As a person who has been involved with self-harm also, it was very hard to watch the cutting scenes. I got a little angry at first, thinking the movie was just stereotyping submissives.
But then I started to think, “Maybe I’m not the only one, maybe there is a correlation.” If you do practice self harm, or have in the past, I would love to hear about it in the comments. A big part of the film’s story revolves around Lee’s cutting, so I loved that it talked openly about such a taboo topic.
The only part that was a little disappointing was when Edward tells her, “You will never, ever cut yourself again. Do you understand? Have I made that perfectly clear. You’re over that now. It’s in the past.”
I thought it was a good response for a Dominant to say, but of course she never ends up cutting herself after he says it. I thought that was a little unrealistic.
2. It shows BDSM has a deeper meaning than just whips and chains
Secretary isn’t a mainstream erotic movie like 50 Shades of Grey. I kept wondering why it was given an “R” rating until the very end when there was one sex scene. Secretary explores what Dominance and submission can look like in real life, and how pain can be so fulfilling.
It also deals with obsessive compulsive disorders and the need for control. Edward tells her how much to eat, and gives her tasks to do. One I really liked was when he told Lee to go for a walk. She obeyed and during her walk she said to herself:
“When I thought about it, I realized I probably never had taken a walk alone. But because he had given me the permission to do this, because he insisted on it. I felt held by him as I walked alone. I felt he was with me.”
To me this really embodies the purpose of rituals and how meaningful they can be.
One of my favorite quotes from the movie is when Lee is sitting at her boss’s desk, with her forearms on the table and she refuses to move. Her ex-fiance asks her if she’s doing something sexual. She replies angrily, “Does this look sexual to you?” It’s a myth that BDSM is only sexual and that part really illustrated that it’s not.
3. BDSM is never the problem that needs to be fixed or explained
Secretary deals with kink like it’s completely natural, even in the scene where Edward treats Lee like a horse. In an interview, director Steven Shainberg said he wanted to show that BDSM relationships can be normal. He didn’t want to do a story where Lee overcomes her cutting and learns she doesn’t need pain anymore.
Lee says to herself at the end of the movie: “I feel more than I’ve ever felt, and I’ve found someone to feel with, to play with, to love, in a way that feels right for me.” And Edward learns that his OCD behavior is not something he has to hide from Lee.
The director also said that they could’ve dealt with the S&M material in a dark way, but they wanted the total opposite: they wanted to show that the nature of the relationship freed the characters to be their natural selves. And in the end that’s what happens. Lee and Edward live happily ever after, living their lifestyle 24/7.
I really hope that if you haven’t seen Secretary yet that you do so soon. There are a lot of great quotes in it, and It may give you a new perspective on what a BDSM relationship can be. You can watch it online through Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, or Hulu.