Review: “Weiner”: A Documentary Of How One Politician Fell From Grace Twice



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Posted August 26, 2016 by

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New York Democrat, Anthony Weiner, became a household name on July 29th, 2010 when he passionately reprimanded Republicans on their vote against the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Here was a politician that not only fought for the people and with the people, but he was obviously not going to be intimidated by anyone to do otherwise. Here was a man we could all stand behind and get excited about. Unfortunately, almost a full year later, it was discovered that he had sent sexually explicit photos to women that were not his wife, Huma Abedin; a high-level aide to Hillary Clinton. When the photos were released, Weiner had no choice but to resign from his position, take a step back to work on his marriage, and figure out what to do next with his life.

This is where Josh Kriegman’s and Elyse Steinberg’s documentary “Weiner” begins. Putting out nothing but stories about how he was a changed man, and how he and his wife Huma had repaired their relationship and even had their first child together, Anthony was finally ready to enter back into the public eye; this time running for mayor of New York. The appealing thing about Anthony Weiner is he is clearly passionate about what he believes is right. He’s like Bernie Sanders but younger, more energetic, and a lot more outspoken. He’s not the kind of politician that is in it for his own gain, but to make sure that the people of the city he lives in get their fair chance at a better life. With a large group of supporters around him, Weiner begins his campaign fiercely and it seems like everyone is willing to forgive him for his past transgressions and get back on the “vote for Weiner” bandwagon. That is until more reports, more women, and more photos (this time much more graphic) begin to surface yet again. What was supposed to be his comeback tour ultimately turns into a nightmare that he’s already lived through once and appears to be doomed to repeat over and over again.

Throughout the film, we see his campaign manager, and those that are working tirelessly to get him elected, be crushed by his constant extramarital affairs. Worst of all, we get a first-hand look at how crushing of a blow it is to his wife Huma who is now stuck between saving her own political career — and Hillary’s eventual run for presidency — or standing by her husband who continues to commit unforgivable actions. In many films like these I get the feeling that the person in question is getting exactly what they deserve — and I feel that way about Anthony Weiner, too — but Huma didn’t do anything to deserve to be put through this twice, let alone once. The main thing I took from this documentary is that she is a strong person, a respectable person, and she’s stuck in possibly the most difficult situation of her life. It’s a shame, really.

(This documentary) lifts the curtain between the public and politicians

Apart from the sexual scandals — and they are brought up every time Anthony makes a public appearance — the documentary gives the viewer a backstage look at what it means to be politician; how they diligently prepare their apologetic speeches to make them feel sincere, how they say one thing in the public eye and then congratulate themselves afterwards. It shows how everything is just a show, even with those that feel the most sincere.

The whole movie Anthony Weiner is trying to find an excuse, beg for forgiveness (from his wife, staff, and the public), and questioning whether or not it’s the job itself that is keeping him from having a normal relationship. The one thing that doesn’t get brought up, that I believe is the real root of the problem, is Anthony’s need for attention; how his low self-esteem is the root of his sexual antics. He literally has a better life than most, a loving wife, and a child, yet he can’t keep himself from creating online personas (this time calling himself Carlos Danger) and sending sexts and pictures of his genitalia. It’s brought up in the documentary that he was never in the same room as the women in question – that he didn’t technically have an affair – but that’s really just trying to find excuses for a terrible problem that won’t stop for the rest of his life. It’s an addiction and he’s not being treated for so he’s destined to repeat it.

The woman that outed that second rounds of conversations and pictures is Sydney Leathers; a woman from Indiana that originally contacted Weiner to tell him about her disapproval for his actions. Instead of not replying and leaving well enough alone, Weiner sees it as an opportunity to tell a woman he finds attractive that he’s deeply apologetic and would love to make it up to her. Not only did she receive compliments, sexual texts, and a picture of Anthony’s weiner, when the scandal broke she also received a paycheck from Vivid Entertainment for making a few videos for them. Near the end of the documentary, we see Sydney on Howard Stern and them setting up her trying to contact Anthony in person. Showing up first at his office building, and eventually at a live speaking event, Sydney does everything she can to make him confront her but Anthony is able to thwart her attempts. Once again, we watch as his poor wife Huma is subjected to having to hide, run, and escape the woman that her husband contacted and started an online relationship with.

By the end of the film, I felt a lot of things. I thought Anthony Weiner is an addict. I felt he needed professional help to get through his self-esteem issues. I felt his wife should do herself the favor and leave this man or come to terms with the fact that she will never be able to trust him again. Overall, I felt the curtain between the public and politicians had been lifted and I finally got an honest look at what they’re really all about. It’s a sad journey to go on, but one I feel everyone needs to experience.





“Weiner” is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Netflix




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