Director(s): Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
Cast: Anthony Weiner, Amit Bagga, Huma Abedin
Spoilers Within: No
Just days ago, the New York Post ran an exclusive editorial detailing Anthony Weiner’s sexting of his bare chest, his namesake, and his 4-year-old son. You’d be wrong to think that Weiner (the documentary) was this timely, but you’d also be wrong to think that Weiner (the man) had learnt any semblance of a lesson from previous scandals that saw him torpedo his career multiple times since 2011.
I’ve caused a slight backlog in my reviews because I’ve been holding off on this one all due to the difficulty I’ve had in isolating the film from the fresh news that Weiner has yet again involved himself in that which he shouldn’t, changing one’s outlook on the man entirely. To talk about the film objectively, this new information needs to be put aside.
Anthony Weiner is not an unintelligent man (again, ignore the fact that he now most certainly is) despite evidence to the contrary, nor is he one that you specifically would have liked to have seen fail this disastrously, but his propensity for making staggering mistakes in this public line of work is hard to overlook when it happens time and again. A staunch member of the Democratic Party, Weiner was a forthright and furious voice that gathered him a devoted following and won him seven terms in New York’s 9th congressional district, a large portion of whom were young women that Weiner took a shine to through multiple forms of social media.
With even so much as a basic understanding of the events that landed him in such career-damning trouble, the documentary holds absolutely no surprises in its revelations of further scandals and denials. His self-destruction is hugely frustrating to watch: he’s charismatic enough that you’d want to come out of this with remaining dignity, and his eventual admittance toward his scandal was – in some senses – honourable, but the abysmally short-lived attempt at denying it – to both the nation and his (ex-) wife Huma Abedin – cost him more than his reputation and pride. Abedin’s determination to see him through two scandals (and more) is hugely commendable, though the documentary paints her in a slightly negative light as Weiner’s defeated wife rather than the possible future president’s vice chairwoman; a career that’s unquestionably more important than a simple mayoral candidacy. Studying her silent reactions as she stands alongside Weiner during the second scandal says more than the filmmakers give her to say in front of the camera.
It’s fascinating to watch such a unique derailment, and Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg have made their mark on documentary filmmaking with their modern suitability: this downfall could only have existed in this social-media age. Weiner’s specific predilection to sexting absolutely couldn’t have existed 10 or 15 years ago, and the time in which Weiner began his fixation on sending women pictures of his junk would have been the approximate beginning of Snapchat and other such means to send quick dick pics, though no one would have expected to publish it to tens of thousands of people via Twitter, least of all himself.
Weiner is interesting but it’s also anticlimactic, though now it’s come to light, the follow-up scandal will potentially give you all the conclusion you need, or make for an even more gobsmacking sequel.