Weiner is a documentary about the car wreck known only as American politics. Directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg unhesitatingly take the viewers to view the wreckage. Given a seeming unprecedented and seemingly unlimited access . Weiner is a documentary about a man who attempts redemption after a self inflicted fall.
This documentary follows Weiner's run for the 2013 mayor of New York City. While this may seem a normal fare, Weiner is trying to pick up the pieces from a 2011 scandal. The imbroglio that he placed him and his family in, was his sending out pictures of his underwear clad 'manhood.' As his last name provided a multitude of puns over the save social media that built his career... and created his downfall. A married man named Weiner sending out pictures of the body part that shares his last name is enough to give New York Post headline writers multiple orgasms. In fact, the first question asked by a New York Post writer during a phone interview with Weiner is, “What’s your favorite headline of ours?”
After initially lying about the sexted pictures, Weiner came clean and resigned from Congress. Prior to that, his reputation as a scrappy fighter for his Congressional district was well-known. The film shows the famous 2010 clip of Weiner’s outraged rant on the floor of the U.S. Congress over a healthcare bill for 9/11 first responders. It follows this with a montage of positive, crowd-pleasing clips of Weiner from various news outlets. Then, just as we get the overview of a politician unafraid to rumble for his political beliefs, we’re suddenly confronted by a picture of some overheated men’s briefs accidentally sent by Anthony Weiner to his entire Twitter feed. It’s a jarring reminder that our own worst enemies are quite often ourselves.
It is with the kick-off of his 2013 New York Mayoral campaign is where the documentary begins. Hopes are high. The past is in the past. Reaching for redemption, power fills his voice. Promises of change, a new man remaining to fight for the wants and needs of those who follow is presented. He will fight. He is the David, inequity is the Goliath. Fresh and filled with vim and vigor, he is the scrappy underdog who will vitriolically fight to free those who are victims. It seems like a story of preparation for victory. The directors brilliantly infuse the film the with corresponding images and clips of crowds thronging to
his uplifting message. However in a sense of foreshadowing, Weiner is often shown in the back of the suburban driven from speech to speech checking out his phone. Presumably checking the social media. That is until... well, until revelation of the Brittany Spears moment... "Oops I did it again."
Using the sobriquet "Carlos Danger" Weiner was at it again. Perhaps it emerged from the same space where he embraced a documentary crew following his every footstep, Weiner fell victim to the lure of power... either that or the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. He was at it again sending pictures of his namesake to diffrent women. It is at this point that the documentarians focus on the increasing strife between him and his wife. The strained look on her face contrasts perfectly to his gaze that is forever quick to look away. As his relationship degenerates, so does the campaign. All he had worked for is slowly being ransacked. Each meeting degrades into periods where personal questions override any of his political aspirations. Despite all efforts, Weiner is unable to place the focus back towards political points. Desperate to maintain his vibrancy, he begins to challenge all critics. When you have to go toe to toe with the very same people you desire to represent is not a good political position. Perhaps the saddest point is here he challenges a reporter who
questions his personal life and choices. His confrontive denial he has to watch incessantly from home questioning his anguished wife to reaffirm his 'victory' in the interview despite the fact that his poll numbers are crashing.
Watching the film, the viewer gets the sense of watching a car wreck. You dont want to look, but curiosity forces you to look anyway. The seemingly unlimited access given to the filmmakers make at times every single frame that is shown, tell a multitude of stories. Does redemption happen? Well one must watch to the very end, where a glimmer of hope is seen. An excellent film that shows the head on collision of american politics, american character, and the intrusion of social media into the mix.