Secretary makes submissiveness look like the new disco

In the mood for some good old-fashioned S&M? The ultimate date movie for the open-minded comes in the form of a coming-of-age tale about a girl from a mental institution who becomes infatuated with her lawyer boss, for whom she is a secretary.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, gives a startling performance in the title role as a submissive who discovers a new way to experience life. James Spader’s hot-cold, red marker-toting lawyer allows the actor to play a full range of emotions as he comes to terms with his fetishes.

Ultimately, the film paints the relationship — which includes him beating her rear in an effort to prevent her from cutting herself and in-office practices such as bringing him papers with her arms cuffed to a pole, which is fastened around her neck — as normal. During the making-of featurette, director Steven Shainberg details times when he explained the story to people. They kept asking, “So, does she get over her problem?” He replies with, “No, that’s the point of the movie.”

This scenario inherently alienates half the mainstream moviegoing audience, and the film makes no apologies for that fact.

But with a witty script and standout performances, the film may just do its part in opening eyes for others who think it’s wrong to boss people around — in the boardroom and in the bedroom.

Will Albritton