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article imageReview: ‘Weiner’ is an intimate portrait of a man who defies privacy Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 1, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Weiner’ is the unbelievable true story of former congressman Anthony Weiner who appears to be a great politician but flawed man.
There are certain jobs that inherently put people in the public eye. However, this can be a double-edged sword as both their virtues and mistakes are widely scrutinized by the world at large. The latter deeds are obviously the more troublesome as what would often be a private matter is splashed across the front page. For the inconveniently named former congressman Anthony Weiner, his poor judgement would repeatedly impact his personal and professional life. The aptly titled documentary, Weiner, chronicles how the crisis was managed behind the scenes.
A career politician, Wiener was New York’s congressional representative for 12 years before the sexting scandal, branded “Weinergate,” would force him to resign in 2011. While having an online conversation with one of several women, the congressman accidentally published a photo of his erection to his public Twitter profile. After several days of denying he participated in the exchange, Weiner eventually admitted his involvement and later stepped down after more evidence was revealed. Two years later, he attempted to re-enter politics as a New York mayoral candidate. Unfortunately the relatively solid campaign was thwarted by further scandal and Weiner would finish last with less than five per cent of the vote.
Film team Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg are granted unprecedented access to Weiner during these incidents. Their camera always seems to be present as the former congressman and mayoral candidate audibly contemplates his next move; as he and his team wordsmith his apologies and speeches; as he talks around his betrayal; and as he nonchalantly treats each day like another one in the trenches. His attitude toward his behaviour, and the effects it imposes on his family and career reveal some of the most shocking moments as he appears to let most of it roll off his back in favour of a public mask that exudes confidence and ignorance.
However the other surprising aspect of this film is its account of Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin’s, feelings regarding her husband’s actions. Pregnant with their first child, one cannot imagine her emotional state upon learning of his online activities. Nonetheless, spending two years out of the spotlight appeared to have been enough time to mend their relationship. Next to his side on the campaign trail, Abedin proves to be a smart, competent woman who believes in her husband and is willing to support him in any way possible. And then the second story breaks and she is never again seen with a genuine smile on her face. The contrast between Weiner’s casual acceptance of events and Abedin’s obvious heartbreak really alters the mood of the film. In addition, the one-on-one interview with Weiner as he reflects on these affairs is not necessarily what audiences may want or expect as it appears little has changed in the years following the scandal — a detail also confirmed in his recent response to @willrahn who tweeted, “Tbh we should all delete our accounts.”
As the saying goes, “You can’t make this stuff up,” and this was surely one story many wish had been fiction.
Directors: Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg
More about Weiner, Anthony weiner, Huma Abedin, Documentary, Josh Kriegman
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