Matthew Bunkell, Customer Services, previews this week’s Discover Tuesdays presentation: Weiner.
Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg. USA 2016.
If ever there were a time for a comic story of political misdeeds and personal lives made public, now is a better moment than any. There is no shortage of revelations about public figures opening their mouth and dutifully inserting their foot into it. With the omnipresent clutches of social media, no one is safe. Co-directors Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman’s parable Weiner shows us the epitome of this fate.
Anthony Weiner seemed like the perfect guy to take the reins of the city that never sleeps. A verbose and vicious contrarian who decimated any opponent in his path, Weiner looked poised to become the next mayor of New York. Then he posted a picture of his namesake to his Twitter followers and the rest, as they say, is history.
Weiner charts the precipitous nosedive and further scandals of the disgraced statesman who, despite his transgressions, remains a compelling and sometimes sympathetic character. Then throw Huma Abedin – Weiner’s measured and tolerant wife (not to mention the right-hand lady of one Mrs Hilary Clinton) – into this mix, and we are offered a grating and incredibly human story of forgiveness which highlights our insatiably fickle hunger to consume the private matters of others.
However, the filmmakers never breach the space between inquisitive and exploitative, and never stoop to the level that they are critiquing. In one engagement with the public, Mr Weiner loses his cool with a member of his electorate at a local downtown deli, making a scene later to be published on every major news site in the New York area. Weiner’s mask is never pulled from him – he willingly lets it fall to the ground, attacking with as much passion as he would his political opponents. Steinberg and Kreigman capture this and, coupled with the exquisite and nuanced editing of Eli Despres, craft a hugely enjoyable and cringeworthy experience which will introduce your face and the palm of your hand in manners thought inconceivable.
At face value, Weiner can be seen as the fall, rise and decline of an unfortunately named politician, but truthfully Steinberg and Kreigman’s documentary acts as a murky mirror reflecting the media-propelled public and those who find enjoyment and revel in the misfortunes of others. Considering that this is poised to be my film of the year, I might be one of them.
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