In my eyes, this is a film with no typin' errors whatsoever. While countless other 'rom coms' have turned in papers with typos & red circles all over.
As deliciously kinky and delicately handled the subject is, it never spins out of control into a trite formula. It maintains a fundamentally human situation. Two people-- one dominant, one submissive. What's surprising about Secretary is that the S & M isn't used as some cheap gimmick. Rather, it adds to the energy & wit being channeled by Spader and especially Maggie Gyllenhaal. Whose Lee Holloway keeps the balancing act of the film falling into near exploitation. None of the energy lags. Added in is of course the comedy. & oh what a delight it is. Shainberg sprinkles in some of the most fiendishly dark humor that would give the Coen Brothers goofy grins.
There ain't no reason for Lee to overcome her 'problem' because with this character, it's not a problem to begin with. To do so, would only have the film regress. It all culminates in a scene with Lee sitting at a desk. Palms down. Feet to the floor. One that defines how far she will go to follow the rules of her boss.
A firm slap to the ass of the rom com genre.