Review: Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer DVD

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer DVD boxSTUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: Alex Gibney
RELEASE DATE: 1/25/11 | PRICE: DVD $26.98, Blu-ray $29.98
BONUSES: commentary, director interview, extended interviews, deleted scenes, featurette
SPECS: R | 118 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Silda Wall Spitzer accompanies her husband for the long walk home in Client 9.

In the 2010 documentary Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, director Alex Gibney posits that powerful political forces and overzealous Federal investigators conspired to bring down Eliot Spitzer, the one-time “Sheriff of Wall Street” and now the former governor of the state of New York.

Sure, as the state’s Attorney General, he made many enemies, including “Hank” Greenberg, CEO of insurance giant American International Group (AIG), and his abrasive governing style rubbed some long-time politicos, such as Senate President Joe Bruno, the wrong way, but like many a Greek tragedy, it was ultimately hubris that ended Spitzer’s fast-track career. That, and the fact that he was getting action from extremely high-priced escorts and got caught.

Fortunately, Client 9 (Spitzer’s handle in the Federal investigation of the Emperor’s Club escort service, which Spitzer frequented) strikes a balance between laying responsibility for Spitzer’s downfall between outside influences and the man himself. Spitzer is forthcoming if a bit diplomatic-tongued in his many interview segments, but we’ll give him credit for even participating in this film in the wake of public disgrace.

Greenberg and Bruno are downright giddy as they talk about their adversary’s misfortunes, and even Spitzer’s own aides and advisors chime in behind a thinly veiled “I told you so” demeanor when discussing their former boss.

Absent from Client 9 are the prostitutes Spitzer slept with. Ashley Dupré, who became most closely associated with the case after being caught on wiretap with the governor, was reportedly with him just the one time and is in the documentary in photos and post-scandal interview clips. And “Angelina,” who was reportedly Spitzer’s favorite gal, is portrayed by an attractive actress, who recites lines culled from interviews that Gibney conducted with her.

As its title implies, Client 9 isn’t only concerned with the unseemly details of Spitzer’s downfall. It tracks Spitzer’s meteoric rise in politics and highlights much of the good he did in cleaning up Wall Street and reigning in executive pay. So impressive was Spitzer’s track record that it leaves us wondering what we’ve lost without him as a policymaker. As one former media advisor puts it, history’s balance sheet will judge how he “changed the way Wall Street operates, went after environmental abuses, went after the insurance companies” vs. “had sex in a Washington hotel room.”

The DVD explores more of Spitzer’s life and the making of this documentary in the special features.


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About Gary

Gary Frisch has been contributing laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray reviews to Video Business magazine, Home Theater Magazine, Home Theater Buyer’s Guide, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and the DVD Guide for more than 14 years. He still has a collection of more than 40 laserdiscs, along with a working auto-reverse LD player, but thinks Blu-ray is da bomb and anxiously awaits the original Star Wars trilogy so he can buy it for the fifth time.