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Weiner has been screening for the New Zealand International Film Festival. I watched it Friday before last. It’s a documentary about former US democratic party congressman then candidate for New York mayor Anthony Weiner who notoriously sent images of his genitals and shared sexually explicit messages, via text message, with women other than his wife.

The film is interesting as an analysis of political spin. After a second series of sexually explicit conversations with women emerge during the candidate’s effort to become New York mayor, his campaign goes into crisis mode as aides strive to control the narrative and get back on message – they ask: what was the timeline? How many women did you talk to?

Through it all is his long suffering wife Huma. She never has a passionate argument with her husband (at least on camera -there are a couple of moments where the two go behind closed doors during tense moments) but she shows through her body language visible discomfort at the whole situation.

I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards Huma, who appears to feel genuine affection for her husband, who unwittingly finds herself dragged into the muck of another scandal. Meanwhile, we see Mr Weiner on the campaign trail deploy the smooth easy charm which appears to the secret of his erstwhile political success.

We are also introduced to Sydney Leathers, who, during the throes of Mr Weiner’s mayoral campaign, exposes herself as an earlier object of his textual desire.  Miss Leathers, a distasteful character, is out for her fifteen minutes of fame and she soon finds a media outlet happy to give it to her.

Mr Weiner is clearly a man possessed with an unusual gift for the gab -before the second scandal he has crowds eating out of the palm of his hand as he stirs them up talking through his grand plans for New York. I could readily see him as a ground announcer at a sporting event or, perhaps, a  salesman spruiking second hand cars.

The whole thing, of course, is entirely choreographed and artificial. The film is an interesting watch to better understand campaign spin and, if you are a little bit juvenile, you may enjoy being reminded of the New York Post’s chosen headlines.

Here is the trailer.


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