“This is the worst. Doing a documentary on my scandal...”
Look. Schadenfreude is a terrible thing. Delighting in someone else’s misery is a pleasure no should ever really seek out… but when the subject of that savage delight consents to having his misery filmed by a documentary team, and that team goes on to release said documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, we are all officially off the guilt hook.
Such is the case with Weiner, which took home the title of Grand Jury Prize in the vaunted winter festival’s U.S. Documentary competition. It follows the painstakingly uncomfortable 2013 mayoral campaign of Anthony Weiner, who was disgraced out of Congress after a scandal involving a few tweets and some pseudo dick pics just one year before. (Weiner kept his underpants on, limiting exposure to a very apparent bulge.) The former civil servant was outed as a creepy adulterer and also as Carlos Danger, his sexting alter ego. Ouch.
Well, after that incident Weiner thought it would be a super good idea to run for Mayor of New York City. And he consented to letting a film crew follow him around during the process. Everyone loves a comeback, right? So why not stage one in the most public way with a documentary team on hand to memorialize your every failure and miscue? Surely Weiner thought he was playing the part of mad genius. If everything had inexplicably come together and he ended up actually becoming the mayor it would have been one of the great political resurgences of all time, with a readymade monument to his triumph and unbreakable spirit being cut and printed for release on the festival circuit. Voila!
But much like elephants, the public never forgets. Weiner couldn’t shake the scandal, and then in the middle of filming/campaigning he got himself embroiled in another sexting incident! It really seems like this guy couldn’t have gotten more effectively in his own way if he had made an expressed effort to do so. And this trailer has it all. His wife calling the appearance of happiness an “optics thing.” His texting mistress. Rehearsed apologies. Weiner calling an orthodox Jewish man a “jackass.” It’s the documentary we all hope will be released about Donald Trump one day when he’s far enough away from the political process not to harm us anymore.
But in the meantime, we have Weiner. And the Schadenfreude commences May 20.