Anthony Weiner doco screening at Revelation Perth International Film Festival


Disgraced American politician Anthony Weiner.
Disgraced American politician Anthony Weiner.

IT was the double scandal that was tailor-made for the tabloids.

The amusingly-named former congressman and New York mayor candidate Anthony Weiner (I giggled) is busted publishing photos of his crotch on the internet – twice.

Cheeky PR stunt gone terribly wrong or career suicide?

In Weiner’s case, it was the latter.

The first time it happened, he was a congressman and it forced him out of Congress. The second time it was smack bang in the middle of his campaign for New York mayor in 2013 – only he allowed a documentary crew to film his campaign.

In a decision as foolish as posting pics of his junk online, Weiner lets the doco crew continue to film as the second scandal threatens to end his marriage, alienate his supporters and staff and be the final nail in his political career.

Any American politics or news nerd would have seen the double scandal unfold as it happened, but Weiner the documentary has unprecedented access behind closed doors with deeper insight.

In a case of life imitating art, Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin faces the media frenzy as the supportive wife a la The Good Wife while shooting him daggers when the media scrum is gone.

If there is one quibble with this documentary it’s that it does not spend enough time with Abedin – why does she stay with Weiner even when she becomes privy to his indiscretions via the media and not him directly?

She becomes just as fascinating a subject as her emotionally cheating husband, who remains strangely endearing throughout.

This is fascinating train wreck viewing; you almost cannot believe it is happening as it unfolds and it is at times excruciatingly awkward to watch.

But much more than just voyeuristically satisfying, it poses conversation starting questions about a voter’s relationship with politicians – are minor personal indiscretions relevant to their professional lives? Do we have a right to know? Are there degrees of scandal that are more forgivable than others?

Would anyone have cared if his last name was anything except Weiner?

There certainly would not have been as many pun-filled headlines.

THE ESSENTIALS

Weiner (M)

Directed by: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

Starring: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin

Four stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Screening at Revelation Perth International Film Festival on Saturday, July 9, 12.40pm, Luna Leederville and Sunday, July 17, 1.15pm, Luna on SX