Weiner (2016)

Director: Josh KriegmanElyse Steinberg
Writer: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg, Eli B. Despres
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2016

In 2011, Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress after it was revealed that he sent photos fo his junk to various women. In 2013, he campaigned to become Mayor of New York when new photos and sexts were uncovered. The documentary follows him and his campaign during that time.

Weiner is an fascinating and above all funny portrait of Anthony Weiner. At times it becomes so absurd that it took almost a miracle that his humanity isn’t lost, but Steinberg and Kriegman manage it.

The central question that the film poses on the meta level is why Weiner would allow the team to shoot their documentary even after the second scandal that torpedoes the mayoral campaign. That it was probably planned as a documentary about his comeback seems obvious, when it became clear that the campaign was doomed, nobody would have been surprised if the camera team hat been shut out of proceedings.

But Weiner keeps them on, still giving interviews and sharing. Why he would do that, the film doesn’t answer explicitly. But to me it was obvious as Weiner’s hunger for publicity and attention (media or other) dripped out of every minute of the film and should be motivation enough.

As Weiner is caught in more than one lie and making the same mistakes all over again, the film never makes excuses for him, but does manage to show that there is still something about him, a modicum of charm, that you can’t really dismiss him completely. Although my sympathies were absolutely with his wife, Huma Abedin, who seemed way too good for him. [In fact, the person I could stand the least in the film was not Weiner (although he would have deserved it) but the woman who made the pictures public the second time.]

In concentrating on Weiner as a person, the movie doesn’t pose the questions I would have liked to see discussed in connection to this case: where are the moral and ethical lines that politicians have to stick to in their private lives? At what point does somebody go from an asshole to unfit for office? But even without investigations of that kind, the film is interesting and really entertaining.

Summarizing: Enjoyable although not exactly earth-shattering.

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