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Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (3 stars)

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is the subject of Alex Gibney's new documentary

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Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

(12A) 117min

This intriguing investigative documentary from Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side) chronicles the spectacular rise and fall of the American politician Eliot Spitzer; as the latter himself comments, ‘The only metaphor I can think of is Icarus. Those whom the gods would destroy, they make all powerful.’ As the Attorney General of New York in the late 1990s, Spitzer launched a crusade against high-level financial corruption, earning himself the nickname the ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’. By 2006 he had been triumphantly elected Governor of New York, and was considered a future Democratic Presidential candidate. Yet within 13 months he was forced to resign from office when it emerged that this married father of three had been paying for female prostitutes from the Emperors Club VIP, an upmarket Manhattan escort agency.

Teaming up again with the author Peter Elkind, his collaborator on Enron …, Gibney has assembled an array of colourful interviewees. These include Spitzer’s powerful enemies from Wall Street, men such has billionaire Kenneth Langone, who hopes ‘his private hell is hotter than other peoples’. There’s also the Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone, a giggling twenty-something madam Cecile Suwal, and Spitzer’s favourite call girl, ‘Angelina’, who’s played by an actress Wrenn Schmidt to protect the actual escort’s privacy.

Gibney’s interviews with Spitzer reveal a man utterly commanding in discussing matters of politics and economics, yet faltering in explaining why he was prepared to risk his whole career for illicit sex. And if the slickly shot Client 9 can’t definitively prove that there was an official conspiracy to bring down Spitzer, it does make us wonder why so many federal resources were devoted to investigating this particular prostitution ring and why Spitzer’s details were leaked by the Justice Department to the press.

Selected release, Fri 4 Mar.

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