CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER (Dir. Alex Gibney, 2010)
It's amazing that former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer sat down for Alex Gibney's (ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE, CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY) camera for this probing documentary.
Especially since the tagline for it is: "Money. Sex. Power. Betrayal."
The scandalized Spitzer, often in extreme close-up, talks at length candidly, though he understandably holds back at times, about his once promising career, and it's a bit jarring at times.
Jarring because this is no confessional - he takes responsibility for his actions and makes no excuses.
Spitzer's interview in this detailed portrait of what led to the his downfall in 2008 when he was linked to a high scale prostitution ring is framed by a narrative told through archival stills, campaign ads, and many clips from CNN, MSNBC, and even The Colbert Report.
Gibney gets a number of Spitzer's cronies and foes as well as journalist and producer Peter Elkind, whose book "Rough Justice: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer" this film is based on, to also sit down to relay their stories.
One of the most lively interview subjects is Cecil Suwal - the co-owner of the Emperor's Club VIP escort service. Her giggly demeanor helps lighten the mood of this somberly told tale saying such things as: "Okay, the governor of New York is using our service, how bad can what we're doing be? Right?"
There's also the interesting case of the prostitute, called "Angela" here, who Spitzer employed many times who refused to go on camera or have her voice used so an actress (Wrenn Schmidt) performs the words of the woman's interview with Gibney.
The film is overlong and the tabloid nature of Spitzer's scandal has been well covered so there's not really anything amounting to a surprising revelation here, but "Client 9" is a solid and extremely thorough documentary in the ranks of Charles Ferguson's also intensely researched INSIDE JOB (which Spitzer was also involved in).
Special features: An audio commentary with writer/director Alex Gibney, extended interviews, deleted scenes, HDNet: A Look At CLIENT 9, and the theatrical trailer.