Weiner is about as entertaining as a film about someone destroying a life and career can be. You might think that a documentary on former New York Representative Anthony Weiner -- he of the scandalous sexts, dick pics and disgraced congressional career -- would seem dated and quaint, a transmission from a pre-Trump time when talking about your penis and tweeting dumb things led to political ignominy, not a national ticket. Instead, the film feels very much of the moment, because it's not really about politics at all. Weiner would be a fascinating figure in any industry -- compelling and tragic, boisterous and self-loathing. Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman's documentary takes place over the course of the former congressman's doomed 2013 run for Mayor of New York, and it captures him in all his discomfiting complexity and flamboyance.
The filmmakers had probably set out hoping to portray Weiner's mayoral run as a tale of political redemption; Kriegman is a former chief of staff for the congressman, and in its initial days the campaign looks promising. But Weiner's campaign couldn't survive the discovery that he had done further sexting after resigning his seat -- all of it, he claimed, during a dark period immediately following the original scandal when he and his wife Huma Abedin were considering a separation. Kriegman and Steinberg capture the explosive impact these new revelations have on the race: the irate and bewildered response of his staffers; the tidal wave of media indignation and snark. They also capture the increasingly painful silences between Weiner and Abedin. It's heartbreaking watching her try not to get sucked into Weiner's vortex of promise and humiliation, but she is always its first and most prominent victim.