Eye For Film >> Movies >> Client 9 (2010) Film Review
Reviewed by: Daniel Hooper
In March 2008, the then New York governor Eliot Spitzer made headlines around the world when it was discovered that he was involved in a prostitution ring, as the titular Client 9. But in the years preceding the scandal, he was most famed in his role as ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’, policing the banks and corporations with absolute righteousness, a role that made a lot of enemies among the rich and powerful. It wasn’t long before he was officially elected the governor of New York and widely tipped to be the first Jewish President of the United States.
As noted in Client 9, the story of Spitzer is a classic one dating back to the days of Greek mythology, and can be seen in everything from Icarus to Citizen Kane – a tale of hubris as man's downfall. In-between the lines, however, is another story, a potential conspiracy against Spitzer by the powers-that-be, since during the investigation and subsequent publicity storm there are a variety of questions relating to the press leaks and FBI procedures that have gone unanswered.
Alex Gibney’s biggest coup in Client 9 is the wealth and quality of the interviewees, an array of characters more compelling than most fiction, with almost everyone involved speaking candidly about the man and the case, from Spitzer himself, to the captains of industry who despised him, to his opponents in the Republican party, to ‘Angelina’, the escort whom Spitzer was most intimate with (albeit portrayed here through an actress to preserve her anonymity). The highlight amongs the interviewees, though, is Roger Stone, a former Republican strategist and lobbyist fired for being a swinger, here casting himself as a private eye of sorts, but coming across as a creepy 007.
It’s hard to feel too much pity for Spitzer as the clichéd ‘man who had it all and threw it away’, but the film shows his virtues and faults, and presents a compelling, if occasionally anecdotal, case for there being conspiracy. Client 9 can be seen as a sister film to Gibney’s earlier minor classic, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. The two films share a lot of the same DNA, as both are slickly shot and edited approaches to the documentary form that manage to make complicated subjects like business and politics relatable and engrossing to the viewer as human stories, without dumbing down to mindless polemic.Reviewed on: 07 Mar 2011