Monday, September 13, 2010

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (U.S., 2010) directed by Alex Gibney, 117 minutes at the Winter Garden Theatre

Eliot Spitzer, once the mighty "The Sheriff of Wall Street" and potentially America’s first Jewish President, now elicits smirks and lewd jokes where it once elicited fear on Wall Street and admiration on Main Street. He was a straight arrow with a pristine reputation, a career of continuous corporate and political successes, a beautiful wife and three lovely daughters.

The most revealing thing about this Spitzer documentary isn't sexual in nature; it's the confluence of massive financial powerhouses and right wing politicians which brought down the eminently fallible Spitzer whose relentless cavorting with high end prostitutes proved to be his political demise.

He demonstrated absolute steeliness at prosecuting firms such as AIG and Bank of America.

Gibney, the director, suggests that his alienation of financial bigwigs like AIG's Hank Greenberg and investment banker and co-founder of Home Depot Ken Langone, Republican Senator Frank Bruno and Michael Garcia, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, all appear to have played a part in his downfall just when his proposed reforms were coming to fruition as Governor of New York State. In March 2008, the FBI prosecuted the Emperors Club escort agency and focused particular attention on "Client #9" which was revealed by the media to be Spitzer.

Another surprise is that Ashley Dupré (more commonly known as Victoria or Kristen in escort circles), the girl whose face was splashed over every tabloid as the "Guv Luv", only spent one night with Spitzer although she has milked the association for every possible marketing opportunity and has even landed a spot as a columnist with the right wing New York Post.

Gibney also uncovered the governor’s true escort companion, here named “Angelina,” and played by an actress speaking Angelina's words.

Although I was as shocked and disappointed as anyone else when the news broke, it seems a tragedy that what Spitzer will be most remembered for is not his war on greed and corruption but his own inner struggles with certain darker elements of his personality.

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