Friday, August 26, 2016

Movie Review: Weiner (2016)

Weiner movie poster
Weiner (2016) - Directed by Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

By Kenny Howell

It's hard to know which angle to approach Weiner, because it brings up so many issues.

But I guess that is what good documentaries do.

Weiner is one of those of documentary on accident cases where the filmmakers were following the subject for one reason, but a bigger, more important reason emerges.

They were making a documentary on former Congressman and New York City Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner. As many know, he rose to power in Congress because of his willingness to fight for what was right, and was a rising star in the Democratic party.

Unfortunately, he couldn't handle all the new attention from women. Despite being happily married to Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin, he would seek out relationships online with female supporters. As far as we know, he never met with any of them, just would exchange pictures and sexts.

It ended his career in Congress, but he tried to rehabilitate himself with a run for Mayor. Unfortunately, he hadn't stopped that behavior.

On one hand, Weiner really resonated with people. He fought for the everyman, and really seem to bring a fight to the Democratic party, something it had been lacking recently. So when people just say leave him alone, that is an issue for him and his wife, that is true.

However, on the other hand, he told the voters that he was a changed man, but still continued to do those things. So then it becomes a trust issue. If he lied about that, would he lie about other things when he became Mayor.

The film also works as an examination of a man falling apart because of his own doing. He not only collapses his professional career, one which he has worked hard for and dreamed about all his life, but he also destroyed his personal life. He had a good marriage with a loving, obviously devoted wife, and they share a child as well. The pressure of that starts to unravel him, and the cracks start showing up as the Mayoral race winds to a close.

And even in addition to that, it is a story about how our culture will kick the crap out of a man when he is down. You expect it a bit from comedians, but the extent to which traditional media pounced on this story and wouldn't get off it is rightfully ridiculed. With all the stuff going on in the world, they latched on to this dude because he sent a pic of his junk to some women. It is part of that clickbait journalism that has become the norm now, but they seemed to really latch on and not let go.

You would think with all these different approaches, it would be difficult to keep everything under control, but Directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg keep it tight and moving, not dwelling on any issue, and just letting things happen as they may. It's quite an impressive feat, and makes for one of the better documentaries of the year.

Rating: ***1/2

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