I believe we all have that one friend – in some cases, maybe more – who dates and then marries an utter dickhead. You endlessly hope that the aforementioned idiot will change, or that your friend will one day and wake up, hit themselves on the forehead and yell: “what they HELL have I done?”
That person for many of her friends is the clever, sassy and gorgeous Huma Abedin, key aide to Hillary Clinton and wife to the appropriately named Anthony Weiner. Yes THAT Anthony Weiner, sender of both solicited and unsolicited dick pics, and the subject of tonight’s BAFTA-nominated documentary, WEINER.
A good friend and political ally to the Clintons and once a highly respected member of Congress, Anthony Weiner is a man often painted as that guy on the inside who is always proudly sticking up for the everyday person, and a career politician of the highest order. Passionate about what can be achieved in office and a true social activist, he’s the kind of person I would have dreamed of having as my own MP… until one day when it all went horribly wrong. It all changed in June 2011 when he was forced to resign in disgrace after admitting that yes, he did tweet lewd "headless" (phnar phnar) photos of himself from his public Twitter account to women he met online, and that it was not the work of a hacker or that the photos were of someone else. At the time, wife Huma Abedin was pregnant with their first child, and stoically decided to stand by her man.
Weiner and Abedin married in July 2010 in a glamorous, celebrity-attended ceremony that was officiated by Bill Clinton and covered in the pages of US Vogue. The couple was not even a year into their marriage when the aforementioned news broke that Weiner had been sexting women online after he tweeted out a photo of his erect penis that he had “meant” to privately send to a woman on the social media site. He resigned from Congress soon after, and in December of that year Abedin gave birth to their son, Jordan.
Fast forward to 2013, when with much counseling under his belt Weiner decided to run for mayor of New York City and also agreed to be filmed for a documentary about his return to politics. That documentary was tonight’s WEINER, and it is one hell of a ride. With Abedin still by his side and knowing other lewd photos from that era that may also come to light during the campaign, Weiner is a man on a mission, putting his political agenda first and attracting many supporters along the way, As we all now know, it once again went horribly wrong… as the man can clearly not keep it in his pants.
Our friend Abedin’s attempts to survive the mayhem are excruciating to watch, and infuse the film’s tragic core. As she gives a performance worthy of a Best Supporting Actor award, we see her stand by her man no matter what – even when lewd images are released from his Twitter account that feature their sleeping toddler son in the background. She’s constantly on the margins of the documentary’s cameras, looking at her pathetic husband with a mixture of contempt and abject sadness. It is a tough watch – and bizarrely, as horrified I was by his behavior I also felt pity for him, and what is clearly a compulsion that he just can’t control.
In a press conference during Weiner’s ill-fated mayoral campaign, Abedin finally spoke publically to plead that her family’s private life is just that - but the documentary makers were there to film her speech in all its glory, or lack thereof. Directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Sternberg captured the pair’s losing battle in extraordinary detail, invoking sympathy for Weiner as passionate defender of working-class values, as well as his wife as passionate defender of her doomed relationship. Like a car crash, it’s difficult for many of us to look away. From his self-destructive narcissist to her doomed wife and loving mother, it makes for compulsive viewing.
I have been following Abedin’s ups and downs since, her separation from Weiner following his second scandal to her forays into the dating world and now, their rumoured reconciliation. WEINER ended up being just a part of that, but a very private look into their compelling tale all the same. Don’t miss it.
WEINER premieres on Thursday 30 March at 8.30pm on Rialto Channel
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