Film Review: “Weiner”

weiner-posterStarring: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin and the citizens of New York City
Directed by: Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 36 mins
IFC Films

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

Film Review by Mike Smith

In July 2010, New York Congressman Anthony Weiner was a firebrand on CNN, arguing it seemed for days in favor of President Obama’s healthcare plan. To supporters he was a national hero. Less than a year later he was a national disgrace.

The film picks up Weiner’s career in July 2013. Forced to resign his office after it was revealed he had texted sexually explicit messages and photos of his, umm, weiner (did you see what I did there?), he has decided to return to politics by announcing his candidacy for Mayor of New York City, something he had contemplated before his resignation. With his wife Huma by his side, he embarks on a 13-week adventure to win back the trust of his constituents and return to power. If only he could keep it in his pants.

A true “fly on the wall” documentary, “Weiner” gives the viewer almost unfettered access to the man and his campaign. What is admirable about the man is that he knows he’s going to take hits for the past. He acknowledges that and then is able to get his message out. With today’s presidential campaign taking horrible turns (with all of the mudslinging I really have no idea what ANYONE’S stand on the issues are), it is refreshing to see someone that concentrates on the message and not a sound bite. So strong and appealing here is Weiner that when other candidates bring up his past they are booed by the crowds. As the race progresses Weiner begins to lead in the polls. Things look good. Enter Carlos Danger. In the middle of the campaign more photos and texts by Weiner are revealed. At first he maintains that they are from the past and that he even noted when he resigned that other photos may surface. This story works until the woman who received the messages notes that she can’t wait to “be with” the next Mayor, who has been sexting her while using the name Carlos Danger. Because Weiner wasn’t funny enough?

It is here that the film takes ahold of you. What had been a funny (try not laughing at the various New York Post headlines that continue to run, including “He’s got Balls,” “Weiner Rises” and, my favorite, “Weiner – I’ll Stick it Out”) and possibly inspiring film about rising from the ashes becomes a bucket of cold water thrown in your face. For those who don’t follow politics, Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, is one of Hilary Clinton’s most trusted advisors. Bill Clinton actually presided over their wedding. She stood by her man during the first scandal and has actually actively canvassed for him during the Mayor’s race. She is there when the news breaks of the new texts and she seems to accept Weiner’s word that they are old. Then the word “Mayor” leaks and, in that quick instant, you can see the hurt and betrayal pass over her face. We are a witness to her pain and if feels terrible.

Needless to say, Weiner is done. He falls from first in the polls to garnering less than 5%. Now, no matter what his causes are, people are outraged at his actions. My father used to say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” and it’s the voters who fought hardest for him that are now turning on him. And here is where the real Anthony Weiner shows up. So enamored of himself that he is borderline annoying, he begins taunting those who would taunt him, assuring himself a rousing defeat, barely getting more votes than the gentleman from “The Rent is Too Damn High!” party. Which were more than he deserved. If I may be permitted to join the editors of the New York Post, in my opinion, Anthony Weiner is a dick head! (did you see what I did there?)

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