The trailer for the documentary Weiner is slick and smart and funny, but it is also a tad misleading. It gives the impression that we are in for a whirlwind, seat-of -the-pants experience with slapstick and laughter all the way through. This not the case, but what you do get is a fascinating behind the scenes look at what it is like to be on the campaign trail and the kind of drive and stamina that requires of someone. It also exposes the death punch that unsavory private details can deliver to a candidate’s chances of success.
Anthony Weiner was a successful Democrat politician who hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons while serving in the US senate. He had a reputation for being a tireless campaigner and a terrier-like tenacity for digging in to his campaigns. It is unfortunate that his name is Weiner because it was while serving that his off-duty antics created the gift that keep on giving for the tabloid press when it was revealed that he sent a ‘sext’ with a picture featuring Weiner jr – and I am not talking about his son here – to someone other than his wife.
Other than the unfortuate apparent nominative determinism, his wife – a very beautiful and successful career woman – just happened to be a senior adviser to Hilary Clinton and the Clintons were actually at their wedding. If Weiner thought he had a chance of riding out the press storm over his indiscretions, he reckoned without the glee that was generated at his indiscretions and the spectacular irony of his name.
He stepped down and went quiet for a while. Then a few years later decided that he would run for Mayor of New York. This documentary basically sets out to chart the grim trail trying to win votes. The small bare office set up with trestle tables to begin with, the appearance at rallies, the merch and just when everything seems to be going well, the revelation which almost seems to have been inevitable by the end of the movie, that he had been up to his old tricks again, the ensuing fallout and the campaign to keep the dream alive in the face of yet more public ridicule and humiliation.
To its credit, the movie does not turn out to be the bitch fest that the trailer seems to promise. We see the strain that Weiner’s determination to push through puts on everyone around him – family and staff – not to mention himself and the dirty tricks employed by the media as they chase another front page. We watch the impact rolling out and Weiner both waving and drowning in the face of the public and private reaction. Worth a watch as both a study of someone who won’t let go and also the people around him just hoping for the day when he might.