10 Critical Thoughts About… Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer

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Highly specific observations on the documentary about the New York Governor's call-girl scandal.

Eliot Spitzer, Client 9

In Client 9, documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney charts the rise and fall of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer was a rising star in the Democratic Party, until a high-profile prostitution scandal brought him down, earning him the nickname 'Luv Guv.' The movie offers candid interviews with Spitzer, his friends, and his enemies.

1. Apparently there's a "Lucky Sperm Club," and Eliot Spitzer is a member.
This movie sets its tone early: one of Spitzer's colleagues tells the camera that the former governor is part of the "Lucky Sperm Club." This is not the only compliment that commentators lavish on Spitzer, but it's probably the weirdest.

2. Spitzer could've been the first Jewish U.S. President.
The movie reminds us of this on many occasions. It's a weird thought, because it's hard to imagine who will actually become the first Jewish president. Unless Jon Stewart stops joking and starts campaigning, it might be someone like the Republican 'Young Gun' Eric Cantor. And that would be terrible for everyone, across all faiths.

3. Ironic t-shirts aren't always ironic.
Not everybody who wears a t-shirt that says "NYPD" or "Boy Scouts Troop 237" is an officer of the law or an expert at tying knots. Yet the guy who runs New York's top escort agency wears a shirt that reads, "I am your girlfriend's pimp," and he means it. It's not a joke, just a heads-up.

4. Spitzer's an idiot not only for breaking the law, but for cheating on his wife.
Silda Spitzer is one of those "total packages" men are always claiming to want. She's insanely good-looking, smart as a whip, and was nice enough to not murder Spitzer after he embarrassed her in front of the entire country. "Wife material" would be an understatement.

5. But he's still an idiot for breaking the law.
Client 9 seems to forget this. The movie goes to great lengths to establish the Luv Guv's intelligence and features a great many people who have nothing but positive things to say about him. "This wouldn't happen in France," or "It's not a crime to sleep with someone" are the types of defenses presented. No, but it is a crime to pay someone for sex, at least in New York — the same state that Spitzer was governing the whole time.

6. I really wish they'd gotten Spitzer's favorite prostitute to talk.
Spitzer apparently had a favorite escort — not Ashley Dupré — and she tells us all sorts of interesting things about the guy. Or at least the movie leads us to believe she does; then, halfway through, the narrator informs us that the real call girl wanted to stay anonymous, and that an actress is reciting her prepared statements to us. Never have I felt so violated.

7. Spitzer's likable, if not relateable.
The man himself humbly summarizes his pre-scandal status like so: "The only metaphor I can think of is Icarus." Yes, of course — Icarus, the Greek mythological figure famously punished for sleeping with prostitutes.

8. Ashley Dupré is little more than a glorified Jersey Shore person.
I'm sorry, but this woman is quite literally a publicity whore. Although she's the one widely associated with Spitzer's downfall, she had the least to do with it (and with him, for that matter). Yet this ultra-tanned, hard-partying Jersey girl has capitalized off of her sudden fame. That would be fine if she wasn't doing it wrong — she'd definitely be more famous if she just gave in and joined the cast of Jersey Shore.

9. Cat Power's music and the phrase "blowjob in the Oval Office" just don't mix.
No matter how much the movie tries to make us think they do.

10. This movie is biased and better for it.
Client 9 really wants you to sympathize with Eliot Spitzer. It presents his enemies, from Republican politicians to NewsCorp (both Fox News and the NY Post are called out), as devious opportunists who spend all of their time cruelly exploiting Spitzer's weaknesses. This stance makes the movie much more interesting than it would've been if it'd taken no stance at all. It ends up being fairly persuasive and very refreshing.