(No longer in theaters)
Maiken Baird, Alex Gibney, Jedd Wider, Todd Wider
Nov 5, 2010
In Client 9, Alex Gibney has shaped a narrative of a maverick taken down by powerful enemies. Mind you, he can’t make that his stated thesis. Given the strong but circumstantial evidence, Gibney has no choice but to extrapolate and hypothesize, especially considering that his subject, Spitzer, blames only himself, invoking such Greek concepts as “hubris.” It’s probably easier for an ex-prosecutor known for macho threats to say he got caught screwing than for him to say he got screwed. But folks, he was reamed.
For all the juicy, evocative details of high-priced-call-girl emporia, Gibney’s story is rooted in Spitzer’s Wall Street crusades, when he made his name (and enemies) by going hard after the kind of people who’d eventually bring the country to the brink of bankruptcy, and doing it despite SEC indifference (or collusion). Along the way he went mano-a-mano with two of the biggest dogs: former NYSE director Ken Langone and AIG CEO Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former for giving Dick Grasso a nearly $150 million retirement package, the latter for allegedly cooking the books. It was Bush Justice Department lawyer Michael Garcia who ordered Spitzer to drop the case against Greenberg, the same Garcia who would later pursue Governor Spitzer for violating the Mann Act (prohibiting the transport of sex slaves across state lines) on a tip from that proudly Nixonian GOP hit man Roger Stone.
Unexpectedly, Langone, Greenberg, and Stone talk on-camera. They don’t say they hired people to follow Spitzer, but my hunch is they would’ve liked to. Oh, boy, would they. Mere minutes after the scandal broke, Langone was on TV saying an unnamed friend just happened to be standing behind Spitzer in the post office as he counted out hundred-dollar bills for a money order. As journalist Wayne Barrett recounts the story, Langone knew he shouldn’t have said anything about it, but he just … couldn’t … help himself.
It should be said that Spitzer declines to psychoanalyze himself—he won’t go there—and that the lovely, sad-eyed Silda doesn’t appear. But Client 9 offers an eye-popping look at the defunct Emperor’s Club, whose giggly proprietress affirms that it was not Ashley Dupré but “Angelina” who was Spitzer’s regular. Gibney interviewed “Angelina,” but instead of putting her in shadow and distorting her voice, he cast a smart and gorgeous actress named Wrenn Schmidt to stand in for her. (It’s a brilliant, devilish little move.) Dupré, now a New York Post columnist and treasured Fox News guest, closes the movie by giving Geraldo (“You’re also a lovely singer!”) a verse of “Let It Snow” that lingers through the credits like a richly fricative fart.
Look out for hilarious interviews with the bubbly, rambling twentysomething Cecil Suwal, former co-manager of the escort service Spitzer employed.