Cinema Review – Weiner

Former congressman Anthony Weiner launches his campaign to run for Mayor of New York City, after being forced to resign from office after a sexting scandal was made public. As a documentary crew follows Weiner and his campaign disaster strikes again, with the candidate not only being shown as being one who does’t learn from the past but has a nasty side.

For those who do not know, Anthony Weiner was a well-loved Democratic Congressman from New York whose fall from grace began in 2011 when he tweeted a picture of his crotch, accidentally exposing the fact that he had been having cyber sex with someone who was not his wife, Huma. In 2013, as the campaign for Mayor was ramping up, Weiner was once again exposed as having engaged in cyber and phone sex with a woman, under the alias Carlos Danger.

Filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg could not have known the juicy story that was due to break when the decided to film Weiner on his comeback to politics, and it is this that makes Weiner so interesting. As audience members, we know what is coming down the line as the first half hour of the film showcases Weiner to be a family man who is trying to move on with his life and career after a scandal forced him to resign from office. During these 30 minutes, Weiner is shown to be confident and charming; a man who knows he can win back the favour of the people and is only too happy to do so. When scandal rocks the campaign again, however, Weiner’s true personality begins to shine through.

Weiner is a film that captures a political scandal as it happens, but although there is much to marvel at throughout the film, there is also a feeling that there is a lot going on behind the scenes that we do not see. Weiner’s wife Huma, herself a political force and vice chairwoman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for President, obviously keeps her mouth shut when the cameras are around, although many of Huma’s glances caught on camera tell a tale all of their own. Less discerning is Weiner himself, who often has outbursts on camera and is less than kind to his wife, his team and the documentary crew as his campaign begins to unravel around him. This is fascinating to watch, but again, there is the feeling that this is unfinished. The woman who exposed Weiner (Sorry) and his cyber affair, Sydney Leathers, also features in the documentary, but the attempt to make her the villain of the piece doesn’t always work, as Weiner shows himself to be his own worst enemy more than once.

In all, Weiner is an interesting look behind the scenes of a political scandal as it unfolds, and as the subject of a seemingly triumphant documentary shows his true colours when things go wrong. There are times where the film feels unfocused and although it is fascinating to watch this entire campaign unravel, spending time with Weiner and watching him bounce back again could have made for a stronger film.

Rating: 3/5

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