To celebrate this day, I offer the following thoughts on the 2002 film, Secretary, written by Erin Cressida Wilson, Mary Gaitskill, and Steven Shainberg, directed by Shainberg, and starring James Spader and, of course, the lovely Maggie Gyllenhaal as the title character:
- Gyllenhaal really came into her own with the role of Lee Holloway, and I'm not sure that any other actress could have played it with the same type of sweet vulnerability. Prior to that, she was playing the best friend character to other female leads. With this film, she illustrated that she could play the lead herself, and has done so now, for some time.
- Spader has had an interesting career arc, hasn't he? He began by playing smug villains in 1980s movies like Pretty in Pink and Less Than Zero, and later, evolved into a nerd hero in movies like Stargate. Ultimately, though, he revealed that he was born to play creepy lawyers, as he did in this film as attorney E. Edward Grey, and later in "The Practice," the TV series which gave birth to his character, Alan Shore (a role which would unfortunately be watered down considerably when spun off into a new series, "Boston Legal").
- During a wedding scene early in the film, Lee dances with her father, Burt (Stephen McHattie), to Frank Zappa's "Directly from My Heart to You," from his 1970 album, Weasels Ripped My Flesh. You can't go wrong with that.
- Early in the film, when Edward and Lee realize that they share mutual interests and affection for each other, a montage of their newly refined working relationship is set to Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man" (from his 1988 album of the same name).
- Anachronisms abound. Grey's law office contains no computers, and Lee uses an old school typewriter to do Grey's dictation. Even the phones are ancients. In fact, there's something very retro and bizarre about Grey's entire law office set up, but it works.
- In sum, the chemistry of the two offbeat and off kilter main characters, coupled with the aforementioned odd set dressing for Grey's law office, is reminiscent of the work of David Lynch. If you've not seen the film, or if it's been a while since you've seen it, celebrate Administrative Professional's Day by revisiting the film for good measure.