By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
From 1999 to 2011, Anthony Weiner made a name for himself as a brash and bold Democrat U.S. Representative for New York. During his terms, he challenged his conservative Republican opponents on many key issues and often did so quite loudly. In 2011, Weiner made the news in a big way for a very different reason, though. Weiner, via his Twitter account, sent an adult woman a very revealing photo of himself. Soon, it was revealed that this incident was not an isolated one, and Weiner had to admit his guilt. He was pressured to resign from office and did so a little over a month after the scandal made waves.
After two years of lying low, Weiner decides to run for the office of Mayor for New York City. Despite the fact that he committed no actual crime, (other than attempts at extramarital relationships) the shadow of his past scandal threatens to derail his bid for mayor. Just when things are bad enough, they get much worse when another sexting scandal surfaces. Weiner the documentary film takes audiences through the process of this troubled campaign and the attempts of Anthony Weiner and his team to redirect the focus of voters, at a time when tabloid news and social media play such a huge role in modern politics.
Directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, this terrific film offers audiences an intimate look at the workings of a political campaign and troubles of its team. Kriegman and Steinberg also offer viewers a more personal portrait of a resilient fighter who tries to remain undaunted in attempts to make a comeback to the work he absolutely loves. The film also presents a fascinating, though somewhat incomplete, glimpse at Huma Abedin, Weiner’s supportive wife who has a political career of her own. It actually pained me somewhat, to see her struggle with the scandals and the unfavorable ways she was treated by the media during an already trying time.
The film not only presents the story of a challenging campaign, it also serves as a commentary on the state of modern politics, tabloid journalism, and the role that social media plays in distracting people from the important issues. Because of Weiner’s poor decisions while in office and during his mayoral campaign, the focus of the media remained on his scandals and eventually turned his campaign into a media circus and PR nightmare. I appreciate that Kriegman and Steinberg present their story in an unbiased and insightful way. The film had me laughing often, but at times, angry, frustrated, little sad, and in awe. It really does promote intelligent reflection and discussion of the state of our nation, and how our priorities have gone askew.
For these reasons, I highly recommend this film as a refreshing alternative to the typical summer movies out there. In Austin, the film opens for a stint at the Violet Crown Cinema and will play in select theaters nationwide. During a time when the U.S. is going through one of its craziest Presidential campaigns, I feel that this documentary is very important, as it allows people to take a pause and critically reflect on their priorities.