Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bechtloff Movie Night: Secretary (2002)

This being a day for love and all I figured it was worth taking a looking at a romance movie. And what could possibly be more romantic than a movie about Maggie Gyllenhaal getting spanked?

For those of you who don't know, in this movie Maggie plays Lee, a girl who recently got out of the nuthouse after being treated for being a cutter. She gets released to live with her parents and ends up getting a job as James Spader's Secretary. Their professional relationship evolves into a BDSM office romance until he breaks it off and fires her because he's ashamed of his unique sexual proclivities. She goes back to her sorta boyfriend and even agrees to marry him despite how bored she is with him. Seriously check out the scene where they're having sex.
This is pretty common in romance stories, the second love interest. He's usually a typical boring nice guy but the girl just can't shake her feelings for Mr. Dark Bad Boy. Normally I would feel sorry for that guy in these movies, but look at that douche.
This guy is such a tool that even when Lee very callously breaks him heart I can't feel any sympathy for him. Finally she confronts her former boss at his office, telling her she loves him. He orders her to sit at the desk until he returns leaving her there for a couple of days. He finally return and they end up together in a BDSM themed marriage. 

This movie had a lot going for it. Both Spader and Gyllenhaal give solid performances and it actually delves into the complexities of the fetishes it portrayed in a smart and engaging way. Unfortunately it suffers from the same problem a lot of romances or romantic comedies have, the third act. 

A well made romance, to me at least has a very interesting first and second act. You get to know the characters and then watch the romance blossom. Then comes the third act and you get the break up. Usually they break up because one or both parties is being an idiot. And then there's a lot of mopping around and its just unpleasant to watch. You know they'll get back together, so there's no suspense, but now the movie has suddenly stopped being fun. 

So why do romance and romantic comedies do this, when it sucks so much. And they ALL do it. Because the simple fact of the matter is romance and romantic comedies really shouldn't exist as a movie genre. Mind you, I've enjoyed many a romantic comedy over the years, but the third act break up always sucks. But without it, you're hard pressed to get a romance to work in a 3 act story structure. Which to me is why romance works best as a subplot. Far better to simply enjoy watching love blossom as the main story progresses, that way there is no obnoxious and unnecessary third act moping around bull shit. 

All that being said, if you're looking for a romance movie this Valentine's Day, especially an off beat one, then this is certainly worth your time.

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