Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
4 (out of 5) Globes
Like a super-sized episode of “Veep” but real and just as funny, “Weiner” was there to witness the apocalypse that was Anthony Weiner’s mayoral bid to rule New York City — the one undone by the Carlos Danger business and its attendant ween pics. It’s been three years since his second epic flame-out, but instead of clarity we get only chaos. If anything the world seemed to have more of an idea of who Weiner was then than now: a wretched perv, reduced to a punchline so juicy even Wolf Blitzer got in a good joke.
“Weiner” isn’t so quick to judge. By turns a comedy of humiliation, a political satire and a Bergmanesque marital drama, it’s not an apologia so much as a clarification — proof that he’s a deeply, profoundly complicated figure, impossible to be judged good or bad. Here are three ways “Weiner” makes him seem more complex, if not always in ways he’d like:
It reminds us he could've been great
Weiner’s campaign started off strong, but once more skeletons came skulking out of the closet, the media was quick to talk about them and nothing else. No matter what he did, and no matter how badly he handled the blowback, it’s despairing to watch Weiner field the same questions over and over. You feel bad for him, but you feel worse that no one’s talking about the real issues he struggles to bring up. When he first became a name, Weiner was a rock star — the people’s politician, who really cared about bullying the bullies, who didn’t mind acting like a jerk but for the side of good.
In “Weiner,” that part of him still peeks out now and then. Late in, he magically regains his mojo, heading into a hostile Bronx round-up and winning everyone over to his side. We can’t be sure whether he’d have made a great mayor — he lacks fear but, also self-control. What makes him an appealing go-getter also makes him a menace; his passion can destroy the bad guys but it can also for destroy himself. Still, even if he’d been a powerful failure, at least he’d have been a lot more fun than Bloomberg.