It seems that each year at MIFF I end up seeing my fair share of fascinating documentaries. This year’s tradition kicked off with Alex Gibney’s Client 9. Luckily for me, Gibney was in the audience as a guest of this year’s MIFF, and partook in a Q and A after the film.
Gibney’s film seems to encapsulate so much more than what I was expecting. Sex, sex, sex with a side of politics was the romp I was anticipating, and excitedly so. However, I was treated to a much more all encompassing look at a man’s rise in politics, the changes he made, the enemies he gained and the traumatic downfall that he lived through and survived.
What is truly fantastic about Client 9 is that while it does seem skewed in Spitzer’s favour, all of his political enemies did agree to be interviewed for the film. While the general favouring towards Spitzer is not lost by these interviews from his political enemies, there is some greater attempt at providing an objective look at what this story is about: the pure opportunist castration in politics. As anyone who lived through the Bill Clinton scandal can attest to, all it takes is a simple sex scandal to rock the political boat and kill a career. However, as we can see with Clinton, he has indeed redeemed himself over time, and a similar feeling of hope surrounds the end of Client 9. We leave the cinema with the hope that sex will not keep the good guys away.
With this last factor taken into consideration, there does seem to be an outweighed focus on the integrity and redemption that result from Spitzer’s actions, as well as the circumstances involving the leak of the scandal. Less attention is paid to the moralising and judgmental calls on the actual events that took place. Spitzer himself says very little regarding the events, and perhaps it is for the better, but there does feel like there is a little something missing here.
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer screened on Friday 22nd July at 9pm, Sunday 24th at 6.30pm and will screen again on Thursday 4th August at 6.30pm.