“Weiner” is a film by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg that documents former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s 2013 mayoral run for the City of New York, through its ups and many, many downs. Despite the usual heaviness of politics, there’s an airy feel to this film, as lighter could arguably be defined as a cringe-comedy sprinkled with campaign strategy and the complexities of mixing work and home life.
The film doesn’t shed a completely negative light on Weiner, as most media coverage of him has had a tendency to do. Rather, you’re left feeling sorry for the guy, and even more so for his wife, Huma Abedin, a long-time aide to Hillary Clinton who is forced to choose between her own career and her punchline of a husband.
But throughout the film we do get to see what most have never seen before, and that is the ingenuity behind Weiner’s ideas. For the early part of the race, his numbers were stellar, and with good reason, as he spread ideas of equality and protection for the middle class. Always a staunch believer in standing his ground and protecting what he thinks is important, his passion for politics and change could have been of real service to New York.
Unfortunately, as we all know, he had some other passions that might not have been the best fit for someone looking to represent the public. After managing to bounce back from his first sexting scandal, it was the revelation years later that there were more women involved, and that the events took part over a longer period of time than most had believed, that were ultimately his demise.
However, the filmmakers excel in showing a more humanized side of the candidate, leading us to believe that despite his deception, he might actually be one of the more earnest politicians out there. It hits on this note from the first scene, with Weiner himself recognizing his own history: “I guess the punchline is true bout me: I did the things. But I did a lot of other things too.”
As you find yourself both rooting for him, and subsequently shaking your head in disappointment, you might laugh sympathetically at a scene of Weiner cracking jokes to his communications aide in the car to lighten the mood once the realization has set in that there isn’t a chance in hell for a comeback, or maybe you’ll feel nostalgic when you see a clip of Jon Stewart poking fun at Weiner from behind his old Daily Show desk (we’re all in agreement that we miss him a lot, right?).
By watching this film, you’ll not only see a moment of painful irony where family friend Bill Clinton, who officiated Weiner and Abedin’s marriage, later swears in Mayor De Blasio, but more importantly you’ll get to understand the nuances of a complex political story that was mostly covered by the news with mere puns and Twitter screenshots.