For ninety minutes of its two hour run time, this often fascinating documentary manages to avoid sinking into the usual stultifying leftist propaganda – then down, down, down it goes.
For the first hour and a half, the film does an excellent job of portraying the man who rose from New York state Attorney General to Governor – and who might have become the first Jewish president if he hadn’t gotten caught betraying the law and his values, cheating on his wife and humiliating his three daughters by sleeping with a bunch of high priced call-girls. The movie doesn’t answer the question: “What was he thinking?” How could it? But it does give a good depiction of the casual corruption that engulfs him and the driven, tormented personality behind his success.
Although filmmaker Alex Gibney is clearly an anti-business leftist – and though he generally portrays Spitzer’s prosecution of Wall Street wrongdoers in heroic terms (some were great, some were questionable, and some of his behavior at the time was inexcusable and presaged his downfall) – he at least gives voice to the opposition throughout. Then at the end, we suddenly find ourselves listening to lefty journalist Wayne Barrett giving his “hunches” about the right wing conspiracy that brought Spitzer down. Now I knew Wayne very slightly when I wrote for the Village Voice. He’s a good reporter and I mean nothing against him personally, but I simply don’t understand why his leftist innuendos are worthy of inclusion here. Likewise who cares what Karen Finley – a woman who used to shove yams up her backside onstage as part of her “performance art” – has to say about sex and politics? Really, these interviews are absurd and leaving them out would’ve improved the film immensely.
So – good first hour and a half, skippable last half hour, except for the part where Spitzer, pushing off the interviewer’s offer to blame the right, takes full responsibility for himself, as he should.