Monday, August 16, 2004

each cut, each scar, each burn, a different mood or time

Secretary achieved notoriety for all the wrong reasons. Maggie Gylenhall's (last seen in Donnie Darko) nude scene being the most significant one. Yet, Steven Shainberg's directorial début tinged with sado-masochism is a love story about people who have learnt to find relief in pain. Until they find each other. And try to come to terms with their confusion, to finally muster the courage to accept one another. The performances are top-notch, and there are nuances in the script and narrative that the director/writer's commentary track helps clarify: the appropriateness of the typewriter ball in the opening credits, the importance of pain as something you can feel in a world without feeling, the tiny sado-masochistic elements (the typing coach hitting his hand with a ruler), the red riding hood motif (and the choice of purple instead of red because it can imply a bruise, a rarity, or even a colour that would appeal to a child), the subtle reduction of light during Edward and Lee's conversation in the library, the importance of the extreme close-ups, which make their first appearance during this scene, and the slow zooms-in (lifted, apparently, from Mike Figgis's Leaving Las Vegas). Then there's the very Lynchian fantasy (was it the red?), which also marks another use of the colour purple (no pun intended). And it's interesting how one could also read the film as a coming-of-age story. All in all, quite rewarding. More rewarding than I had expected it to be.

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