She cuts herself or presses hot water kettles against her thigh.
Crazy? Maybe not so crazy, certainly not any more crazy than the rest of her family. As we learn more about her family, we discover that some of the more “acceptable” ways of dealing with stress, like her father’s (Stephen McHattie) alcohol problems, are actually more damaging to the body than Lee’s method. Her mother (Lesley Ann Warren) is extremely unhappy and hides it under a blanket of fake cheeriness. Lee’s boyfriend Peter (Jeremy Davies) is coming off of his own mental breakdown and is kind and considerate to Lee, but what she craves is really just a good spanking.
When Lee finds a job as a secretary working for Mr. E. Edward Grey (James Spader), it is readily apparent that he runs an unusual office. Everything is just a little off about Grey, from injecting his office plants with syringes filled with some unknown concoction to the OCD line of red magic markers that are carefully aligned on his desk. After some jousting back and forth and with some mutual revelations about each other’s somewhat unnatural predilections, they start to discover that both of them need what the other dishes out.
The sadomasochistic elements of their relationship bloom into so much more than just fulfilling desire. This, as it turns out, is a love story.
This is not a movie about discovering you are weird and that you must become less weird. This is a movie about embracing how you are different and finding someone who understands.
E. Edward Grey: Why do you cut yourself, Lee?
Lee: I don't know.
E. Edward Grey: Is it that sometimes the pain inside has to come to the surface, and when you see evidence of the pain inside you finally know you're really here? Then, when you watch the wound heal, it's comforting... isn't it?
Lee: I... That's a way to put it.
The characters are simply fascinating, brilliant casting and brilliant acting bring them fully to life. The quirky, humorous dialogue is at times laugh out loud funny. The circumstances creating these bizarre interactions between characters are so deftly done that I accepted all of it without blinking an eye. I could feel my perceptions of sadomasochism evolving as I started to get to know Lee and Edward. By the end of the movie what once seemed weird didn’t seem odd at all.
E. Edward Grey: Look, we can't do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Lee: Why not?