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A car crash in slow cinema

Painfully embarrassing and entertaining scandal documentary, revealing the American political show in the Trump era.


Directed by: Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg

From the standpoint of the scandalized former Congressman Anthony Weiner, it may have seemed like a good idea. After falling into deep turmoil when he accidentally tweeted the image of his erect penis to thousands of followers, he decided to stand in the New York City mayoral election in 2013.

Convinced that he could make a political comeback, Weiner gave his former chief of staff Josh Kriegman and co-director Elyse Klingman full access to film the process.

Weiner had another ace in his sleeve. One of the drivers was his loyal wife and mother of his children, the power broker Huma Abedin – incidentally Hillary Clinton's closest adviser in the current presidential campaign.

During WeinerIn the first half hour, the fiery underdog manages to win the hearing of various New York voters who would like to believe that the candidate has stopped sending sexually-charged text messages to his female admirers. But then it all falls apart. New phone sex accusations occur long after Weiner's first confession of sin. Instead, any hope of reconciliation turns into a chaotic, joyous media humiliation by Weiner, who in all his Stoicism decides to continue despite the storm's negative impact on marriage, and despite the chances of winning, are minimal.

Scandal on scandal. Deprimende? Yes, but Weiner is a timely story that is likely to become a documentary cornerstone in the sagas of the entangled systems of the American electoral process – in line with Robert Drew's influential Primary (1960) and Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker's Clinton Story The War Room (1993). The difference is that Weiner is not about a triumph, but rather the candidate's self-destructive, flaming crunch from inside the cockpit. Klingman and Kriegman's nuanced documentary is convincingly embarrassing and genuinely entertaining – and often both at once.

When the new sex scandal flares up, Weiner and Abedin quickly try to prepare a statement as the press flocks together outside their office. Weiner asks the assistant to leave the room, but allows the camera to remain. While the couple is desperately trying to keep the damage in check, the TV channels are starting to show Anthony Weiner's latest penis pictures – photographs that Abedin had not yet seen. The resigned silence that follows carries with it both sorrow, disintegration, the end of all winnings and the end of marriage (Weiner and Abedin separated in August).

One of Weiner's phone sex contacts decides to camp just outside the campaign office with media in tow.

Nightmare. But even after all this, Weiner decides to continue the election campaign. The documentary's last hour is a staggering parade of various conflict-filled basketballs, highlighted by surrealistic press conferences and theatrical TV appearances.

In a truly incredible scene, Weiner performs a scheduled performance in City Island in the Bronx, a constituency where the exuberance of his extravagances is extraordinarily prominent. The tense meeting opens with a sea of ​​hissing and bowing – but somehow the confident politician manages to turn the mood, and even manages to get applause. Like the many contradictory feelings the movie evokes, it is in these moments that we strangely cheer Weiner – brave but doomed to lose.

Anthony Weiner himself claims that neither he nor Huma Abedin has seen the film, which received the Grand Jury Doc award at this year's Sundance festival. Nevertheless, Weiner has expressed some irritation that, according to him, the filmmakers have exaggerated Abedin's role in the film to sell it better. But the thing is that even when Abedin is only quietly in the background, she is perhaps the most fascinating figure in Weiner. In the midst of her husband's chaotic breakdown, Abedin – who is perfectly aware of the camera's presence and how publicity can affect Hillary Clinton's campaign – never loses her composure. Then there is little that makes more impression Weiner than Huma Abedin when she answers the question of how it is: "It's like living in a nightmare."

Hide. Election Day is coming, and that with a dramatic fireworks reminiscent of dramaturgy in a feature film rather than a documentary. One of Weiner's phone sex contacts Sydney Leathers – a former extortionist from Las Vegas who has now become a porn star – decides to camp just outside the campaign office, with media in tow.

Klingman and Kriegman are proficient in presenting the details of a rather pathetic strategy: The fallen Weiner should get away from the Sydney Leathers by hiding at a local McDonald's. Weiner's only moment of insight seems to be as he suggests to humble Abedin that she should go home first. Ironically, the only thing that saves Weiner from a direct confrontation is that the Leathers fail to step past the crowd of cameras pursuing Weiner up the stairs.

Reality Show. The sourest apple Weiner Forcing us to bite in is perhaps the perfect portrayal of a shaky American political system in combination with journalism's mournful function as a reality show in the Trump era. At the very end of the movie, Kriegman asks a downcast Weiner: "Why did you actually let me film all this?"

According to rumors, a famous filmmaker is following Hillary Clinton throughout her presidential campaign right now. Probably there will be another documentary in which Huma Abedin will play a key role. Are we surprised?

Weiner now runs Norwegian cinemas and is available for rent or purchase on iTunes.

Logorecki is a filmmaker, based in Albania.

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