SEVEN CIRCUMSTANCES

Book Reviews & Essays on Literature

Secretary, by Erin Cressida Wilson (screenplay), Mary Gaitskill (short story) 

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secretaryOn the subject of erotic fiction, an unsettling and memorable example is Secretary, the 2002 film, in which the reserved secretary gets involved with her boss who is into S&M. It has the same set-up as Fifty Shades of Grey, but more is achieved while less is said. The film is based on a short story from the book Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill (who is, or was, really into S&M). Gaitskill thinks the movie script version of her story is “too nice”. I would not say the movie is nice. I’d call it restrained, or down-beat. By the time these two characters eventually do the deed, the reader, and viewer, is positively pent up with expectation. Like the decoration of the office in which the characters find themselves, their interaction is spare and controlled, so that the emotion that surfaces eventually shines like a bright spot of blood on a white napkin, remarkable by its contrast. (Continue reading…)

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