Anthony Weiner self-destructs on camera in this documentary
Some politicians seem intent on self-destructing, and among those at the top of the list is Anthony Weiner. As thoroughly detailed in Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman's documentary simply called Weiner, this charismatic, talented man has a fatal flaw—his sexting—that has derailed his public career and deeply hurt his family, supporters and constituents.
First hitting the tabloids in 2011 with his inappropriate sexting of suggestive photos, Weiner publicly denied, then apologized and thereafter resigned as New York's Congressional representative. A moth to the spotlight, Weiner began making appearances to rebuild his reputation and, in 2013, ran for mayor of New York. And yet as "Carlos Danger" he continued his sexting of photos even more explicit than those for which he’d already been humiliated and he added phone sex to his repertoire while the filmmakers enjoyed full access to his mayoral campaign. It all comes crashing down in a truly pathetic series of shocking revelations.
The documentary Weiner resists explicit judgmental commentary but its fly-on-the-wall approach captures the embarrassment of all involved in his mayoral campaign and the heart-breaking disillusionment with the Weiner candidacy so enthusiastically supported. As Weiner's former district chief of staff, Kriegman had no holds barred access. Thus the film offers a devastating snapshot of one man’s hubris, insensitivity, and obsession.
In several of the most painful private moments, Huma Abedin, Weiner’s wife and Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff, expresses verbally and nonverbally the strain of her humiliating, undeserved position. She understands all too well social media’s appetite for scandal and how reprehensibly her husband fed right into it. Thus, rare behind-the-scenes footage plus snippets of media coverage offer a revealing comparison/contrast at ways hard news broadcasts versus more sensationalistic programs select and shape their presentations. It isn’t a flattering picture of salacious appetites and, we have to admit, audiences who feed on such offerings. Wisely, Weiner doesn’t sensationalize the material, adopting an approach that communicates an implicit regret over the developments.
It is shocking and appalling to witness so talented an individual become a desperate man dodging the media he so happily engaged days before new revelations. But after watching the documentary Weiner, I can’t help but feel that we haven’t heard the last from him and that, like a Phoenix, he’s going to try yet again to rise from his ashes. At a Landmark Theatre.