Film review: ‘Weiner’ – Life involved with a political scandal
Anthony Weiner was a US representative from New York when he was forced to resign in 2011 due to a sexting scandal. Filmmakers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg were given full access to Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin (a long-time top adviser to Hillary Clinton) during Weiner’s campaign for mayor in 2013.
Initially, after asking the voters to give him a second chance, Weiner’s campaign appears to be going well as he’s winning in the polls. But soon, news gets out that Weiner continued sexting a year after his resignation from Congress. Almost immediately, he began plummeting in the polls and despite wife Huma initially standing by his side, he refuses to withdraw and ends up with about 5% of the vote on election day.
The documentary is supplemented by archival footage from notable television personalities including Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, Lawrence O’Donnell and Howard Stern. Things can only get worse for Weiner when Stern urges one of his more recent sexting partners, Sydney Leathers, to confront the mayor wannabe outside his headquarters on election day.
Weiner appears to be his own worst enemy by often losing his temper when confronted about his past indiscretions. After staff defections and constant internal discord, Huma no longer agrees to appear with her husband in political ads and is observed scowling in the background as Weiner’s meltdown continues unabated.
While Weiner comes off as being quite adroit regarding political issues, he appears to have little insight into his own behaviour. As reported in the NY Times, prior to the initial scandal, Weiner was known for constantly screaming at staff members and he often faced high staff turnover. During the second scandal in the 2013 mayoral campaign, he’s observed being perhaps a bit more circumspect with staff members, who ultimately express their disappointment in him, as the campaign falls apart.Ultimately, Weiner can be seen as someone who wanted to outdo his parents career-wise, both of whom were professional people (his father a lawyer and mother, a high school teacher). Weiner achieved that by becoming a U.S. representative. Pressure to over achieve sometimes comes from the parents but not always—in other cases, by achieving a position of power, the overachiever seeks to maintain a position of control over others.
But Weiner’s problem appears to be at a deeper level in the sexual realm —despite being married to the very attractive Huma, he is unable to achieve a deeper level of intimacy with women (as evidenced by his desire to communicate superficially with strangers via sexting).
In the end, Weiner should be considered a comic figure and not a tragic one. Just as an Archie Bunker lacks the self-insight to understand that his bigotry is wrong, the same applies to Weiner—except here it’s a matter of a lack of desire for intimacy with women and a self-image based on an illusion of power.
One further prediction if I may—when the 2016 election is over, I have no doubt that Huma will file for divorce and leave Anthony for good.