REVIEW: Weiner

25 05 2016

WeinerSundance Film Festival

Political scandal and gaffe culture may be reaching its zenith in the Trump era, as each successive ridiculous statement fuels news cycle after news cycle. News media no doubt sees it as a boon since it allows non-stop talking head commentary masquerading as legitimate analysis.

Need a break from it all? Dive head-first into Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s “Weiner,” an blow-by-blow chronicle of former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s failed New York City mayoral bid in 2013. For whatever reason (most likely hubris), Weiner and wife Huma Abedin allowed documentarians to film this politically perilous campaign. You know, in case the public spotlight following his sexting scandal and subsequent resignation was not going to be strongly trained enough on their family. What’s another camera?

The filmmakers catch plenty of what made Weiner a rising star in the Democratic Party. He’s an undeniably dedicated public servant with a really dynamic, no-holds-barred approach to fighting for his beliefs. But that also comes with a dark flip side of self-righteousness that leads to self-destructive impulses, such as sending lewd pictures of his genitals over the Internet to women that were not his wife.

Both waters seem to flow from the same spring of his fiery personality, which makes his charisma a strength until it becomes a liability. One scene, seen from offstage of a sound set where Weiner joins into a cable news program, gives us the perspective that he just screams at no one. Intercut with the actual interview, it provides a stark example of how context and perspective define our distinctions of “crazy” and “passionate,” or “hubristic” and “idealistic.”

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