Disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has worked his way back into the news recently with some new allegations that forced him to resign from Congress and most recently cost him the election for New York City mayor. Earlier this year, a documentary movie was released that was originally slated to follow him on his campaign for mayor of New York City and quite possibly the election, in which, he would emerge the victor.
Unfortunately for him, and us, he was unable to keep his pants on long enough for that to happen. The film itself is an uncomfortable train wreck that you cannot quite pull yourself away from. Not only is it due to the fact of hindsight that we know the outcome, but you can see in the looks of the people that participated in the documentary that allowing the cameras to follow them was a huge mistake.
In case people did not know, the film starts off with a montage of clips that show then New York Congressman Anthony Weiner as a rising young star in the democratic party. Taking on the establishment Republicans in Congress, he earned himself the reputation of being formidable and unable to move with the status quo. Then, we move into the scandal that he denies then eventually admits to. Of course, he stated that he is not going to resign, but public opinion is against him. Even a clip of President Obama states that he should resign; Weiner eventually caves and resigns from office. This plays out in the first ten minutes of the documentary. It fills in the gaps that the media did not cover and is more of like “last time on The Anthony Weiner Story.”
The film picks up later when Anthony Weiner had decided to run for public office again, but this time it is as mayor of New York City. Early polls show him as a front runner in the race and that he has to defend himself against the other candidates trying to drudge up his previous indiscretions. This time, by his side is his wife, Huma Abedin, a top political aide to Hillary Clinton and a key supporter on the campaign trail. She is even featured in some political ads campaigning for her husband.
It is quickly evident that Huma is not a big fan of the cameras that are swirling around her, which gives credence to the claims that she did not agree with the documentary. Although, her claims that state she was off-limits is not supported when she is asked a few questions on camera and answers them honestly. Weiner himself claims to be a changed man and can help New York, yet during his speeches there seems to be some trust issues between the two of them, which makes one wonder if she knew what was about to happen.
Just as things seem to be going for Weiner, a so-called political activist, Sydney Leathers, reveals that she had, in fact, had been engaging in sexting and phone sex with Weiner with only a few weeks to go in the upcoming election. Quickly, Weiner and his campaign have to do damage control. Weiner tries to steer that this was part of the previous indiscretion that forced him to resign from Congress. Unfortunately for him and his staff, that is not the case at all. This is a completely new person and the look of mistrust from not only Huma but his staff seem to permeate the campaign. There is a key moment before the damage control press conference that show Huma on the verge of killing Weiner and at that point of the film, you root for her to take a swing at him.
The remainder of the documentary is the downfall and the inevitable loss to now-Mayor Bill de Blasio. However, the main points of the film are not the actual scandal but the study of him as a person. He seems to have good intentions but like many people with certain addictions, he cannot control himself in the face of adulation, especially from female supporters. Not only that, he is very real about who and what he is that he is not afraid to back down from a fight even when it does not endear him to the public that is voting for him.
The overall documentary will satisfy both types of people that would watch this: the scandal whores that love to see train wrecks and people that want to know what he is like. Weiner, himself, does not shy away from who he is. Many times, in front of the camera, he seems ashamed by what he has done but not to the point of being apologetic. At the end of the film, you begin to feel sorry for Huma and wonder why she is staying with him. In the beginning, she states that it was for their unborn child, but in light of recent events it seems that is no longer the case.
Weiner is a documentary that seems to have things going for it and is positioned to be a story about redemption. Unfortunately for the viewers and the people of New York, it slowly evolves into a soap opera that makes you feel like you are watching the trashiest of reality television but are unable to turn it off. This is a decent documentary if you have some time to kill or like to see egomaniacs fall on their faces like a televangelist.