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Courtesy photo.




WEINER (R)
At the Sofa-plex

06/09/16
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Politician Anthony Weiner inexplicably — or, maybe explicably, if you consider that he is clearly a man in desperate need of constant attention — allows a documentary team to film him during the 2013 New York City mayoral election in Weiner, a fascinating, uncomfortable look at the self-torpedoing politician’s attempt at a comeback.

If Anthony Weiner had not texted pictures of his nether regions (or, to be more precise, tweeted them, like a moron) to ladies not his wife and sexted using the name “Carlos Danger” (which, just: head shake, sigh), he might be exactly the sort of scrappy attack dog the Democrats could use right now. As you might suspect from one who had to go through middle school with the last name “Weiner,” Anthony has a thick skin, can hold his own and has the ability to mix both humor and serious thought. But, despite being married to the superlatively forgiving Huma Abedin (who, as others have pointed out, is indeed shockingly beautiful and graceful at all times), Weiner seems to need, desperately, not just attention but adulation. Set after the first explosion of his professional career, this movie looks at his attempt to claw back, via the New York mayor’s race. And, for a time, he seems to be succeeding. With Huma ringing in with her endorsement and Weiner willing to turn any attack on him into a pledge to work for the city, it seems for a while that he has a fighting chance. Early polls put him in the lead of the Democratic primary. 
But then word comes out that not only did Weiner continue to sext after he resigned his congressional seat but he basically continued until just a few months before he announced his mayoral run, continued naughty texting at more or less the same time as he appeared in glossy magazine profiles saying he’d reformed. In squirmy detail, we get to see his staff angrily react, his press events become laser-focused on the scandal and his poll numbers sink hard and fast. 
The real horror of this documentary, however, is watching Huma. While we hear a bit from her and see her, we don’t get some kind of confessional from her, we don’t get her thoughts expressed directly to the camera the way Weiner’s are. What we do get is a view of a woman whose soul appears to be slowly being crushed and a husband who may or may not be aware of that or know how to to respond. It’s uncomfortable, but the movie doesn’t necessarily linger. What the Huma sections do is provide the movie’s context, the “this is the price of a life in modern politics” that I think the documentary is trying to incorporate into the tale of this one man’s rise and fall and further fall.
While the movie doesn’t particularly offer any new insights into Weiner himself, it does have moments of fun featuring the wonderfully pushy New York press and moments where we get to see the hard work of shoe-leather campaigning, when Weiner walks through neighborhoods shaking hands, taking compliments and complaints, and marching in any number of parades. Perhaps not a must-see, this documentary is like a scoop of light ice cream, offering political junkies a little break from an even more combative presidential election. B-
Directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, Weiner is available via Comcast onDemand. 





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