Review Date:
Director: Steven Shainberg
Writer: Erin Cressida Wilson
Producers: Steven Shainberg, Andrew Fierberg, Amy Hobby
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Lee Holloway
James Spader as Edward Grey
Jeremy Davies as Peter
A psychologically unstable girl gets a job as a secretary for a lawyer, who himself, also seems to have a couple of screws loose. The man is as perfectionist as they come and orders the timid girl around something fierce. Do spanking and masturbation sessions ensue? You bet! And there’s plenty of that in the movie as well.
This is a perfect example of a “small quirky” movie. It’s not the black comedy that I was expecting it to be, in fact, it’s more of a really bizarre love story, but at the end of the day, it beats the shit out of most of the retreads bulldozing their way through theaters nowadays, and I guess we shouldn’t have expected any less from the peeps who brought us VULGAR, AMERICAN PSYCHO, DOGMA, amongst others (that’s Lions Gate Films, by the way). With that in mind, it also needs to be said that this is not a movie for everyone. It has a very deliberate pace, it doesn’t necessarily have much “action” and features various sequences of adults being either spanked or masturbating themselves (like a Sunday afternoon at my place). So if MEN IN BLACK 2 was your idea of an “awesome movie”, you best skip over this one and check out my review of the more predictable SWIMFAN or something. This is a “character-driven” movie which essentially focuses on these two very warped individuals for over an hour and forty-five minutes, and the main message that I got out of all of it (other than the fact that I gots to get me a secretary asap!), is that no matter how messed up you believe you are…there is always gonna be someone as messed up as you out there, and better yet, someone as messed up as you…who you could actually fall in love with!

That’s right, even those folks who prefer candle wax on their nipples or sucking toes can apparently find the “right” person in life (which still doesn’t explain my bachelorhood, but I guess that’s another story altogether). There are various elements which help this film gel as a whole, including the score by David Lynch regular Angelo Badalamenti, the great looking office sets, the palpable sexual build-up between the two lead characters, played splendidly by both the underrated James Spader and the cutey-patootie Maggie Gyllenhaal, and even more so, the very original premise which places these two very odd people in a very basic situation to which we can all relate (having a shitty boss). And no matter how bad you think you’ve ever had it with your own supervisor, I don’t think it’ll come close to some of the kooky (kinky) stuff that goes on in here. One very memorable sequence features Gyllenhaal having sex with her boyfriend (actually, more like “lying there” while her boyfriend penetrates) and another in which her boss asks her to bend over the desk, pull up her skirt and…well, maybe I should leave the rest to your imaginations, but needless to say…this movie gets pretty graphic! Now I’ve never been into that whole S&M scene myself (M&Ms are more my game) but the way that it was presented here (you know, very surface and un-leather and chain-like), actually turned me on here and there.

I’m not sure if it was Gyllenhaal (or maybe even Spader) but the movie really juiced the tension between the two. But despite its daring subject matter, the flick ain’t perfect, doesn’t finish as well as it starts, goes on for a little too long and doesn’t really develop any other characters but the two leads (I thought the mom was hilarious but what was her story?) Once again, let me remind you that this is not a kid’s movie or a comedy per se (although admittedly, it does feature some funny moments), this is not the kind of movie that everyone will dig (it moves slow and offers plenty of master/slave sexual undercurrents), but it is definitely original in every sense of the word, features a couple of very unique and fun performances by its leads and had me seriously wondering about the fates of these two very quirky individuals long after the credits were done rolling. Now if you’ll excuse me…I gotta go jerk off…

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian