Arts Desk

Reviewed: Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

While watching Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, you remember that the former governor's brain is not, as New York magazine famously alleged, in his pants. Alex Gibney's documentary focuses a great deal on Spitzer's time as alpha attorney general, taking on corruption in the finance world with such singular ferocity that he dubbed himself the "Sheriff of Wall Street." The film may as well be called Inside Job 2; this time, though, it is indeed personal. Of course, the fall referred to in the title was brought on not by political shenanigans but prostitutional ones — or was it? Gibney makes a nearly airtight case that Spitzer's professional bullying both as attorney general and governor made him such bilious enemies (a couple of whom are interviewed here) that his identification as Client 9, i.e. a john of high-priced escort service the Emperor's Club, had hit-job-esque consequences that far outweighed his sin. (To wit: Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, implicated in the D.C. Madam case, is still in office, instead of being relegated to a talking head who now says things such as "We have a great show today!" a la Spitzer.) Even more compelling than his significant takedown record is the man himself, who sits, chastened but not diminished, for Gibney's pointed questions; you'll wince when the director asks, "Why hookers?" but you won't look away. And though the "luv gov"'s girlfriend the night he was implicated, Ashley Dupre, is also profiled here, more interesting are the comments from "Angelina" (played by actress Wrenn Schmidt), who serviced Spitzer on more than one occasion. (The socks? A myth.) Spitzer's hubris–a word that comes up a few times throughout the film–is certainly on display, as he admits to "heated conversations" (others would classify them as threatening) with his opponents and virtually ticks off every issue he believes himself to have been right about. But he's also contrite and doesn't blame anyone for his political unraveling: "My view is I brought myself down," he tells Gibney. "I did what I did, and shame on me."

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