May 26, 2003


posterPart coming-of-age, part thriller, part dysfunctional family portrait, but mostly a sweet dominant/submissive love story. The unbearably cute Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Lee, a young woman recently released from a psychiatric institution for her use of imposed pain as a method of coping with the emotional pain in her life. Lee seeks independence from her family through employment and gets a job as a secretary for lawyer E. Edward Grey played by James Spader. Grey's idea of the duties of a secretary are somewhat unorthodox, but dovetail nicely with Lee's inclinations. Spader and Gyllenhall really carry the movie, making their decidedly non-Hollywood characters completely real and sympathetic. The overall tone and pacing of the film, the score, and the look of it are all nearly perfect reflections of the story as well. It does dip briefly into the semi-surreal towards the end, but overall the movie is a charming look at an atypical relationship form.

I wouldn't have minded more extras on this DVD. There's a making-of featurette with too-brief interviews with the actors, a small photo gallery, and a commentary track with writer Erin Cressida Wilson and director Steven Shainberg. We haven't heard the commentary yet, but will probably listen to it some time (yes, this one made it into the collection before we even saw it)

Verdict: 3-1/2 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at May 26, 2003 03:36 PM