With a name like his, you’d think former Congressman Anthony Weiner would avoid anything sexually tawdry at every possible cost. (See: Dick Butkus, model citizen.) But we all know that’s not what happened.
His once-promising career died in a sexting scandal that came in two waves, first in 2011, after it was revealed that he’d sent explicit pictures to several women, leading to his resignation from Congress. The second wave hit two years later, as he tried to resurrect his career by running for Mayor of New York City.
Weiner, the stunningly candid documentary about his life, opens wide May 20. But it’s so jaw-dropping, you may want to prepare yourself in advance. Here are the most insane moments:
1. The opening scene: Weiner gets crazy right off the bat, as he sits before the camera on the eve of his mayoral run. “S—. This is the worst. This is the worst. I’m doing a documentary of my scandal.” Yes, that does seem ill-advised. What could have made him think it was a good idea to invite directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg to put a camera in his face, particularly since he knew he was still vulnerable on the scandal front? After all, he says, “I did the things. But I did a lot of other things, too.” That’s just one of the great psychological mysteries about Anthony Weiner that you’ll be discussing with your friends over post-movie dessert. Order coffee – you’ll have a lot to talk about.
2. Huma faces the public (part 1): “I love my city and I believe in my husband,” says Huma Abedin, introducing Weiner at an event announcing his candidacy. She sure sounds supportive. But it’s the quiver in her voice, the tears welling in her eyes that give her away. Abedin, a longtime aide of Hillary Clinton and a political powerhouse in her own right, could not be less comfortable playing the political wife post-scandal. So why is Weiner running? For her. “She was very eager to get back to the life I took from her,” he says.
3. Huma faces the public (part 2): Just as Weiner surges in the polls, it’s revealed that even after his resignation from Congress, he continued to share explicit photos, texts and phone calls with other women under the name Carlos Danger. Abedin steps up to play the good wife, making a statement before the press that she still loves and supports her husband, and that she chose to forgive him then, and she’s choosing to do so now. At a meeting at her home, she reminds one shattered staffer that the press will be waiting when she leaves, and suggests she perk up. “You will look happy?”
4. The Lawrence O’Donnell interview: The opening question from MSNBC show host O’Donnell, “What is wrong with you,” sends Weiner into a tizzy that results in verbal fisticuffs rarely seen on TV (before this particular election season, that is). Weiner watches the interview at home later, cackling and gleeful at his performance. Abedin steps into the room, horrified. “Why are you laughing,” she asks him. “This is crazy.” Says Weiner to whoever’s operating the camera: “Whatever the opposite of that is, is what Huma is.”
5. Putting Huma on the spot: In one scene, Weiner asks a visibly uncomfortable Abedin if she’s going to do any more campaign appearances like “a normal campaign candidate’s wife.” Later, when he’s filming a campaign spot addressing his shortcomings, he asks repeatedly if she wants to be in it. She declines. “I just think it’s a huge risk,” she says. “Honey, leave a few minutes after me,” he deadpans when the shoot is over. “Someone might think you’re married to me.”
6. Sydney comes for Carlos: On the day of the mayoral election, a panicked staffer informs Weiner that “Pineapple” is in front of the office. Who or what is Pineapple? That would be Sydney Leathers, the then 23-year-old whom Weiner (as Carlos Danger) called up to five times a day for phone sex. He avoids her at the office, but then learns that she’s waiting outside his campaign party. “I’m not going to face the indignity of being accosted by this woman,” says Abedin to her husband. After turning the lights off in the limo and seeing how wounded she is, he tells her, “Huma, don’t come.” It’s the most loving moment in the entire film, and the saddest.