A fascinating study of a man with an addiction that is probably very widespread - sexting. It's an addiction we're not quite used to, because it contains no ACTUAL sex - but it is one that with the advent of technology no doubt taps into the reward centers of the brain virtually as effectively - as do drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Additionally, it leaves behind one heck of a digital trail, making it incredibly easy for the addicted party to be exposed, literally. The documentary follows Weiner's trajectory from rising political star married to a beautiful woman who walks the corridors of high power to a man to a man who has nothing - not even the 'loyalty' of those he was exchanging sexts with. Given the recent turn of events, where Weiner actually included his young son in one of his sexts, you can see how little impulse control and rational judgment he has - also illustrated in his frequent and often unnecessary outbursts. If the documentary did anything for me personally, it was illuminate the heavy burden he shoulders his wife Huma with - here is a woman who desperately wants to support her husband in his ambitions but who is continually placed in the excruciating position of having to choose between her husband and her own dignity and career. Huma's big, sad, disappointed brown eyes as she struggles with the horrible load he has placed on her is what I'll remember most from this compelling documentary. No woman should ever have to be put in the position of running desperately away from her husband's 23-year-old porn star sext partner while cameras capture every shadow of agony wavering on her face. Why this movie is being classified by Amazon as a comedy is beyond me - it's a tragedy.
This might be one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. Not because of the unique filming or the question of even really the topic, but because of the depth of access allowed by the participants. You sort of expected the campaign to shut down or rescind filming rights at some point, but that never happens. They just get to keep filming day after day right up until the end.
The interplay between Anthony Weiner's drive and political savvy and sharp wit against his personal moral failings and denial works so well. You always find yourself asking if this is the thing that is going to sink him or if he is going to fight his way back to the top.
I have been waiting to watch this and it did not disappoint. As someone who followed these stories from the beginning, I was hoping there might be some kind of explanation as to why this man continued to engage in behavior that risked his personal life and political career. (Hint: there is no logical explanation) There are a number of humanizing moments for Anthony Weiner, and you start to root for him as a politician when you see how passionate he is about New York City and its people. However, you realize his passion might just be a byproduct of his complete absence of self-control. He is just as passionate about arguing with a random heckler at a bakery as he is campaigning at a Pride parade. Either way, the filmmakers did an excellent job at showcasing the rise of his campaign and subsequent downward spiral. As an outsider, you grasp how much this affected those around him, specifically his staff who devoted their time and talents because they believed in him. Hard to watch, but engrossing at the same time.
This film captures the essence of the best and the worst of Anthony Weiner, told through the unflinching lens of the documentarian. Weiner can be one of the most effective orators, passionate about his city and its people. Yet he has this chink in his armor, the need for approval, to be loved, to be adored vis a vis sexting. It's his oxygen, and something he won't--or can't--stop or control.
This film showcases the best of times: Weiner riding high on throngs at a parade, kissing babies, high fiving and hugging his constituents. He dotes on his son, and has a loyal retinue of staff behind him.
Then the shoe drops and the more sexting incidents come to light. Weiner's inability to control his libido is second only to his inability to control his temper: on an MSNBC show, at a bakery when confronted with a heckler.
It would be easy to portray Huma as his long suffering, stand by your man kind of woman. But the filmmakers show you a woman whose conflict, anguish, love for her husband shown throughout the film. One can only imagine the advice she sought and received by her counsel and mentor, Hillary Clinton, who also experienced a similar scandal with her own husband.
The film doesn't spell everything out and wrap up the situation in a nice, neat box. Because only Weiner can explain it, and I honestly don't think he can be true enough to himself to answer that honestly beyond a "a lot of politicians feel the need to do this".
Will there be a second act for Weiner? That remains to be seen. Will he follow the path of his compadre Eliot Spitzer, who has rebuilt his career and reputation, or instead follow the path of Lance Armstrong, who's never rebounded from his scandal (Client Number 9 and The Armstrong Lie are also excellent documentaries).