Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

Edina Cinema, starts Friday

The usually silver-tongued Eliot Spitzer, political hero of last month's Inside Job and now ubiquitous media personality, stammers and hesitates when asked to explain the psychosexual motivations behind his spectacular flameout in Alex Gibney's gripping Client 9—or, if you prefer, Inside Blow Job. Spitzer, whose tireless efforts to redeem himself led to his cooperation in this doc, receives an entirely sympathetic—yet thoroughly researched—treatment from Gibney, who makes a persuasive case that the former governor may have been brought down not just by his penis but by his deep-pocketed enemies: GOP operatives and the titans of industry Spitzer went after during his tenure as New York State attorney general from 1999 to 2006. Whether the sheriff of Wall Street's phenomenally bad judgment (and appalling hypocrisy) was the result of either extraordinary hubris or a willful need for self-destruction, Spitzer himself tensely offers this vague explanation: "Those are the mysteries of the human mind, I suppose, because I don't know." But as Gibney argues, what matters more than the reasons behind Spitzer's psychological shortcomings is that his political career ended—most likely forever—just when we needed his stewardship the most. Could Spitzer have protected us from Wall Street's implosion six months after he resigned as governor? Probably not, but Empire Staters would at least have been spared the disastrous rule of David Paterson.

 
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