“The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers.” – Marshall McLuhan
So begins Weiner, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s energetic, powerhouse documentary about Anthony Weiner. It’s a fitting quote; the former democratic congressman was caught in the middle of a sexting scandal when it came to light that he was sending explicit pictures of himself via the internet under the name “Carlos Danger.” A prominent role in politics combined with a self-proclaimed “funny name” made for the perfect storm, with political comedy hosts such as John Oliver and Steven Colbert making it their nightly punch line. After resigning in disgrace and somewhat slipping out of the public eye, 3 years later, he made a bold move: he decided to run for Mayor of New York City. And that’s where the documentary Weiner begins.
The documentary follows Weiner as he mounts his political comeback, with his wife Huma Abedin — one of Hilary Clinton’s top aides – by his side. At first, everything seems to be going shockingly well. In one of the film’s most upbeat moments, we witness a montage of Anthony Weiner leading campaign parades, pandering to the many different demographics and cultural groups that populate the great city of Manhattan. “Que viva Colombia!” we hear him shout, the crowd worked up and eating out of the palm of his hand. Next, we see him waving a rainbow flag during a gay pride parade, kissing babies on the sidelines. In that moment, we’re led to believe that maybe – just maybe – this is the glorious rise from the ashes, the triumphant underdog story, that seemed all but impossible considering the fall from grace that happened just a few years prior.
And just like that, all our hopes come tumbling down. A new sexting scandal emerges, giving the documentary a swift curveball. It’s an instant reminder about what’s so great about documentary cinema: the filmmakers have no control over where the real story takes them. What started off as an inspiring comeback story quickly turns into one not only about the behind-the-scenes crisis management of a prominent campaign – but one of the current media-driven state of politics. In a time where the current political climate seems more ripe for TMZ than NBC, Weiner is a stark reminder of the power the media holds to make or break a candidate.
Weiner is now playing at MDC’s Tower Theater and O Cinema Wynwood. For more information and showtimes, click here: