The saga of former Congressman Anthony Weiner — who resigned after a sexting scandal, came back to run for New York City mayor, and was undone by yet another sexting scandal — is one of the most documented falls from grace of all time. Not only did it happen at the height of the social media era, it happened because of it, as it was Weiner’s own inadvertent tweet of his sexually aroused self that started the whole thing.
But if you thought you knew the whole story, just wait until you get a load of Weiner, a jaw-dropping documentary that takes you inside Weiner’s mayoral campaign, ending up with a fly-on-the-wall viewpoint of the second scandal as it happens. Filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg take full advantage of the access given to them by Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, trailing them wherever they go and discovering gold at nearly every turn.
Of course, getting dirt on Weiner wasn’t their objective; the original intent was to document his attempted comeback and see if voters were willing to forgive and forget. As it turns out, they were; early polling showed strong support for Weiner and he seemed well on his way to earning the Democratic nomination.
It’s not difficult to see why Weiner was so popular; when it came to politics, he wore his heart on his sleeve, displaying a passion that most people want to see in their leaders. But it was passion of another kind that was his undoing, as he, like too many men, was literally unable to keep it in his pants.
The film is one cringeworthy moment after another. Once the scandal hits, Weiner and his team must go into crisis mode, and we are witness to seemingly every bit of misery they are all experiencing. And yet Weiner, whether through hubris or some other misguided force, refuses to throw in the towel, staying in the race until the bitter end.
It’s not clear if there are any lessons to be taken from Weiner; he was not the first politician, nor will he be the last, to be caught up in a sexual scandal. But as a piece of film, it is by happy accident one of the most complete deconstructions of a man you could ever experience. You may not want to see it, but you can’t turn away.