Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg were given unprecedented access to Anthony Weiner, his wife Huma Abedin, their very young son, and his campaign staff, and yet "Weiner" comes up short in its commentary. I think these two filmmakers would have made a much better film if they had focused primarily on Huma --- a more interesting and sympathetic human being.
"Weiner" is disappointing because it doesn't tell us anything we don't already know about this narcissistic congressman who seems headed for greatness but simply can't help himself. He gets caught in a sexting scandal which was media fodder for an interminable amount of time. Two years later, in May 2013, he launches a run for mayor of New York City --- and people love him ---- initially. But, again, this self-destructing imbecile has to admit to new charges of the same indiscretion.
The most remarkable aspect of "Weiner" is the depiction of Anthony's demeaning treatment of Huma. She is a political powerhouse --- the long-time aide to Hillary Clinton --- and to witness his condescending attitude towards this brilliant, articulate and beautiful woman, who still chooses to stay married to Weiner, is unnerving. I seriously wanted to smack him.
And therein lies the rub --- why does Huma choose to stay with such a louse? No one knows what goes on in someone else's relationship, so we cannot judge or either comment on Huma's reasons for staying. But I strongly believe that going after that answer would have improved the content quality of "Weiner".
Watching Anthony Weiner eat his sandwich in the car en route to his next stop is gag-inducing. I'm not exactly sure what Kriegman and Steinberg are going for there, but it's vastly unpleasant. We already know he's a pig, do we have to watch him eat like one?
Opinion: Wait for DVD
"For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been'."
This quote from John Greenleaf Whittier applies mightily to the political career of former U. S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). In a new documentary about his fall from grace, Weiner is seen early on at the Congessional podium, passionately railing against his Republican counterparts for failing to support a health care program that would benefit the respondents of 9/11.
Weiner appeared to be a voice to be reckoned with, perhaps a rising star in the Democratic party. But the first of two sexting scandals forced his retirement from Congress in 2011. Two years later, attempting to resurrect his career, he ran for mayor of New York City, but alas, a second sexting revelation quashed any chance he had against eventual winner Bill de Blasio.
"Weiner" is fascinating on one hand, but depressing on the other. Jeanne will say the film is not particularly well done, but I think the filmmakers do an effective job of splicing together interviews and actual footage of Weiner's turbulent years in the public eye.
We struggle to understand why his beautiful and intelligent wife Huma Abedin supports her husband, even after the second scandal breaks. Not comfortable in the limelight, Huma musters up the strength to stand in front of a microphone amidst a throng of reporters, and a wide television audience, to say she still believes in Anthony. But clearly, when the second incident goes viral in the middle of the mayoral race --- a race he appeared to be winning at the time --- Huma seems deeply troubled, for their marriage, and for their toddler son Jordan.
Just when things couldn't get any worse for the Weiner family, the primary woman that Anthony connected with via social media (they never met), identified as 23-year-old Sydney Leathers, appears in New York City. Evidently the media attention compels her to meet with Weiner publicly for the first time.
I would characterize Leathers as a despicable, publicity-seeking hound with a smirk that never ends, desperate for her 15 minutes of fame. It only further adds to the mystique of Weiner's aberrant behavior --- why this woman? That query is never addressed, nor is the root of Weiner's apparent addiction. When confronted with that possibility by a TV host, he merely shrugs off dealing with it.
Weiner is also depicted as an unpredictable hothead. His confrontation with a man in a New York City deli during a campaign stop turns ugly as both men engage in a shouting match --- hardly the demeanor New Yorkers were looking for in their mayor. Weiner eventually finished fifth among a slate of nine candidates. He received less than five per cent of the popular vote.
Co-written and directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, "Weiner" begs the question why Anthony Weiner agreed to be exposed -- no pun intended --- to a movie-going public that probably had forgotten whatever it was they previously knew about him. Even Kriegman himself asks Weiner that question at the end of the film. It would seem Weiner's deep-seated need for attention knows no bounds.
"Weiner" is a disturbing look at human failings. The documentary doesn't delve deeply enough into Anthony Weiner's psychological makeup. But the film is entertaining on some level that satisfies our tacit fascination with celebrities who implode.
Opinion: See It Now!