Weiner

 

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This portrait of a Democratic congressman who became immersed in scandal invites you to draw your own conclusions.

  

Weiner

 

Josh Kriegman who directed this documentary with Elyse Steinberg worked for the congressman Anthony Weiner for the first time in 2005 when he was in the running as mayor of New York. Much later - in 2013 - Weiner made another bid for that office, but in the meantime his life had been upturned. Since 1998 he had had a seat in Congress but in June 2011 had resigned after scandal had engulfed him. The year before that he had married Hillary Clinton’s aide and friend Huma Abedin, but in 2011 he became known for having posted a sexually explicit photograph of himself to a female follower and, worse still perhaps, he had lied about it and then been found out. Resignation from Congress immediately followed, but two years later here he was hoping that this past history would not prevent him from being elected as mayor. Having decided to campaign in this way for a second time, he encouraged Kriegman to film from the first day onwards with virtually unlimited access.

 

Although Huma emerges as a key figure here, this film is, as its title indicates, essentially about Anthony Weiner and usually when a film is made about an individual it will adopt a particular viewpoint. This is all the more likely when that central figure is regarded as controversial and the filmmaker can readily be pro or anti. However, Steinberg speaking for both directors has said that they felt it important not to take a point of view. It is an approach which in this instance proves profitable.

 

Early on when the film is recalling the events of 2011 one may well be influenced by the notion particularly prevalent in France that a politician’s private life should be of no concern to the public. Some viewers may support that attitude and stick to it even when they see how, being encouraged by the press, the old scandal reignites in 2013 with additional revelations. But there is also the question of Weiner having lied and now under the eye of the camera Weiner’s character comes under ever closer scrutiny. To invite the filmmakers in suggests candour, but his determination to keep going regardless of further public exposure underlies how self-centred he is and what little regard he has for the effect of all this on his sympathetic wife and their young son. The tale told by this film over its 96 minutes may not be the most substantial in terms of what is needed to sustain a feature length work, but the questions it raises make it intriguing throughout. If Anthony Weiner is a victim is he a victim of the press or of his own narcissism? Only by watching this film can you answer that question for yourself.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Jordan Zain Weiner, Sydney Leathers.

 

Dir Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, Pro Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, Written by Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg and Eli Despres, Ph Josh Kriegman and others, Ed Eli Despres, Music Jeff Beal.

 
Edgeline Films/Motto Pictures-Dogwoof.
96 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 8 July 2016. Cert. 15
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