Weiner (2016)

Directors: Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg

As the quote from Marshall McLuhan at the head of the film notes, “the name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers”, and if there’s one thing worse than being a politician caught sending dick pics to women, it’s presumably being caught sending dick pics to women who’s been blessed with the surname Weiner. Poor Anthony Weiner, reduced to a human punchline, and a joke that he evidently still doesn’t get himself. The back story is dealt with in a handy opening montage contrasting him as a rising and somewhat ferocious star for the Democrats with his abrupt fall from grace thanks to that crotch shot, before getting down to the brass tacks of him trying to make a comeback as mayor of New York. Which he obviously does under a considerable shadow, although as a politician (if perhaps less so as a person) he seems to have been quite popular… and I daresay he may well have been a contender if only his dick hadn’t got in the way again (minus underpants this time).

Weiner makes for kind of difficult viewing, cos Weiner is so open to allowing some really uncomfortable moments to be caught by the camera (there’s only a few moments where he asks the crew to stop shooting), and “the dumb thing” as he calls it obviously makes him a target for quite an amount of nastiness. What stops this from being merely a blackly amusing cautionary tale is the way in which Weiner’s indiscretions, as he fully admits, also exposed the rest of his team to hurt, particularly his wife Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton’s top advisers. She is a large part of why Weiner may be a joke but he’s not one that you can laugh at too easily (even if, by the end of proceedings, he can kind of make light of it himself). A couple of further developments have, of course, made watching the film now just that bit more uncomfortable; firstly, Weiner’s claim that the filmmakers used footage of Abedin without her permission (even though her absence from the film would’ve left a notable void in it, she provides considerable emotional gravity) and secondly, the news just the other day that Weiner got caught letting his dick do the thinking for him AGAIN and Abedin has finally walked out on him. If nothing else, I suppose that all the voices in the film criticising her for standing by her man will be happy, though no doubt they’ll still tut-tut her for having taken so long to do so… as for “Carlos Danger”, well, if the film makes you wonder often how Weiner can live with the cameras being on him in some awfully personal and embarrassing moments, the aftermath just makes you wonder what it’ll take for him to finally learn from experience.

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