Film review – Weiner (Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, 2016)

The worst thing about watching the political equivalent of a car crash is that politicians never seem to learn from their predecessors’ mistakes. Wars keep happening, smear campaigns take precedent over actual policies in the run up to elections, mayoral campaigners Tweet pictures of their erect penises to strangers.

Wait, what?!

Okay, that last one is a new one on the political landscape. Anthony Weiner is a great sport though. He lived up to his name whilst figuratively – though thankfully not literally – taking one for the team by playing out the lesson twice, first in 2011 and then again in 2013. That the second one happened during under the prying eyes of documentary filmmaking duo Kriegman and Steinberg, at the time trying to capture the rebuilding of a shattered political empire, makes it all the more fascinating.

The film left me a little split on my opinion of him. On the one hand, he is clearly a driven man who is good at his job, galvanising public opinion and canvassing support for what he truly believes is right for his city.

What I can’t deny though, and I think we can all agree on this, is that the mayor of New York shouldn’t have an alter ego on the dark web called Carlos Danger tweeting pictures of his dick to women behind his wife’s back.

His wife, Huma Abedin, leaves the film with her head left relatively high. She is a woman of unbelievable strength in the face of a continuously catastrophic husband who laughs in the face of public opinion, even though his livelihood depends on being popular with his public. The only question is why she sticks around when he is clearly a huge damage to her political career (she has been an aide to Hilary Clinton throughout the two scandals and leading into the presidential election later this year).

As a documentary, Weiner is about as good as it gets. It isn’t putting the pieces together after an event, instead getting lucky and being able to present a truly spectacular political scandal from the inside of the bubble. The characters are their interactions are as captivating as any fictional story.

It might not be a comfortable watch, but there’s something about Anthony Weiner that’s hard to not get addicted to. He’s an almost great political swamped by his own ability to ruin his own chances of achieving anything other than the total humiliation of himself and everyone associated with him.

Well worth 90 minutes of your time.

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