Silda and Eliot Spitzer grimly greet the public in Client 9.
CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER (Alex Gibney). 117 minutes. Opens Friday (November 12). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNN
Client 9 could have been another story about a beleaguered good guy politician who just had a little sex and lost everything, but director Alex Gibney (Oscar winner for Taxi To The Dark Side) is smarter than that. Yes, there are some really bad guys in the persons of the rapacious bankers and corporate execs whom Spitzer tried to bring down when he was New York's attorney general; and, yes, they may have played a part in exposing him as a major client of the Emperor's Club escort agency once he was New York's governor.
But Gibney also sees Spitzer as a profoundly flawed character who prosecuted prostitution services while frequenting them and who rose to the governorship thinking he could bulldoze everybody and everything to get his way. Politics, alas, is much more complicated than that. And enemies like his have too much to lose not to fight back.
The doc's talking heads are fascinating, including creepy Home Depot founder Ken Langone and weasely AIG CEO Hank Greenberg. Most memorable is the hilariously ditzy operations manager of the Emperor's Club, Cecil Suwal, who will crack you up.
One major flaw: not a word from Spitzer's wife, Silda. No portrait of Spitzer is complete without a few comments from her.