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Stars: Featuring: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Barbara Morgan, Amit Bagga, Sydney Leathers, Jon Stewart, Howard Stern

Director: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg

Let’s face it.

There is something admirable – not to say heroic – about a man named Weiner who nevertheless runs for public office when his name can, states Oxford Dictionaries, be taken to mean, “vulgar slang A man’s penis”.

And, at first, Democrat Anthony Weiner (whose marriage to Huma Abedin was ironically presided over by Bill Clinton, someone who was equally exposed to public humiliation as Weiner and on a far grander scale too) easily overcame any potential problems related to his surname and successfully served in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 until 2011.

Then, in 2011, after denying it, he was exposed as having sexted explicit photographs of himself to a woman via Twitter when he admitted he “had" exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years" and resigned from Congress.

Then, two years later, after the all-too-public ruin of his political career, he decided to run for Mayor of New York, which he believed, “should be the middle class capital of the world”.

I saw this mesmerizing behind-the-scenes documentary directed by his former aide Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg twice in three days (don’t ask!) and found it even more fascinating second time around), both as a few-holds-barred portrait of a man (“I did these things and I did a lot of other things too”) whose undoubted bravery in the face of possible public opprobrium seemed to be matched only by his overwhelming recklessness in the face of experience.

The behind-the-scenes footage of him and his wife Huma Abedin (who was a trusted assistant to Hillary Clinton) and their team electioneering paints a riveting picture of political expedience – never concentrate on facts - when public relations and promises that will probably never be fulfilled can help bring electors around to your political point of view.

Doubtless this dubious but proven process, allied with Weimer’s considerable personality should have won him the Mayoral election. After all, the method has worked for US Presidents before him and probably many to come.

Then Weiner blew it all over again when Weiner, using the unfortunate nom-de-sext ‘Carlos Danger’, sent more explicit photographs to a 22-year-old woman Sydney Leathers who makes the most of her brief appearance in the documentary.

Weiner’s undoubted charisma, even in disgrace and defeat, makes riveting viewing, as do the “supporting players” who make up his team, his rivals and, particularly, the appearances of the self-adoring, self-serving and selflessly egotistic television interviewers/small screen chat show presenters and other media folk feeding voraciously on scandal in order to promote their own cannibalistic careers.

And even knowing that Bill de Blasio won the Mayoral election doesn’t rob the story of its considerable grip.

If there is a subtext, it could well be that all politicians are essentially self-serving and only cosy up to the electorate when absolutely necessary.

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Dogwoof. Colour.
96 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 10 Jul 2016