Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young woman with a history of severe emotional problems, is released into the care of her overbearing parents following a stay at a mental institution. She finds work as a secretary for a rigid and demanding attorney, E. Edward Grey (James Spader), and starts dating the kind but dull Peter (Jeremy Davies). However, Lee soon realizes she's turned on by Grey's stern demeanor, and begins a sadomasochistic relationship with him.
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