1. First off, both films are about a shy brunette who falls for an elusive Mr. Grey and has S&M sex with him.
Secretary, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader, came out in 2002. Fifty Shades (the book) came out in 2011 and the movie, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, is scheduled for 2015. HMMMM.
2. In Fifty Shades, Christian Grey wants Ana Steele to open up, which just leads to her getting flustered.
An almost identical situation happens in Secretary, but leads to a more genuine conversation.
3. Ana and Christian appear to have that moment of sexual discovery in an elevator.
It’s fine, it’s hot, whatever.
But this is that same moment in Secretary.
4. Fifty Shades is all about the secret sensual touching.
So is Secretary, but it gets way more subtle.
Touching a thigh under a table is a trope we’ve all seen before. But that graze of Edward’s thumb against Lee’s pinky??? Legendary.
5. In Fifty Shades, Christian’s controlling behavior primarily functions to make the sex more interesting.
But in Secretary, Edward actually maintains a level of openness with Lee that makes her feel less alone.
6. There’s that moment where Christian shows Ana his BDSM sex chamber.
Whips, handcuffs, blindfolds — the usual suspects.
But Secretary isn’t afraid to get really weird.
7. Also, Fifty Shades seems pretty tonally serious.
8. Mostly though, Ana and Christian’s romance (spoiler alert) doesn’t ever blossom into a real, truly loving relationship.
It ends with Ana learning that she’s incompatible with Christian and leaving him.
But that’s exactly what happens in Secretary, and not in a super slipshod way either.
Along the way, both characters grow and explore their own personalities in ways they haven’t before.