Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Depending upon your reaction to this movie, you may never again be able to look at a red felt Sharpie pen without disgust, a thrill, or the giggles.
Ebert & Roeper:
This is one of those movies that could have gone all wrong, but it hits all the right notes.
Secretary is a textbook example of a movie that's not for everybody: It's easier to respect it than to enjoy it.
Both lead performances are earnest in the extreme and that the psychological explanations for what's shown on screen are facile, at best.
Los Angeles Times:
For all the dolorous trim, Secretary is a genial romance that maintains a surprisingly buoyant tone throughout, notwithstanding some of the writers' sporadic dips into pop Freudianism.
Though it was made with careful attention to detail and is well-acted by James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal, I felt disrespected.
It is truly original in its tone, its choices made and paths taken.
Sadomasochism is treated as a joke in Secretary, but the fun of the movie is that it's also much more than a joke.
Globe and Mail:
The movie isn't painfully bad, something to be 'fully experienced'; it's just tediously bad, something to be fully forgotten.
Offers something few films even attempt: an honest depiction of the role sex plays in everyday life as a source of empowerment and healing.
Makes S&M seem very romantic, and Maggie Gyllenhaal is a delight.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
For all its Bunuellian pretensions, Secretary is deeply conventional: Edward and Lee accept their bondage as the way to a more fulfilling life. It's the filmmakers who need to be spanked.
New York Observer:
I don't know about you, but I found all these outrageously romantic maneuvers both funny and endearing.
The movie enters a realm where few non-porn films venture, and comes across as darkly funny, energetic, and surprisingly gentle.
The director, Steven Shainberg, has succeeded by focusing intently on his characters, making them quirky individuals rather than figures of fun.
A liberating, kindhearted picture, one whose ending brings with it the feeling that something has finally been shaken free.