Love And Politics: Our Review of ‘Sergio’ on Netflix

Posted in Movies, Netflix, What's Streaming? by - April 17, 2020
Love And Politics: Our Review of ‘Sergio’ on Netflix

Love can make things more than a little complex…

While it occasionally has a hard time trying to pick a lane, Sergio is a poignant look at the true story of a man; flaws and all who aspired to a level idealism that is just the kind of humanistic nobility that we need in the world right now.

Charismatic and complex, Sergio Vieira de Mello (Wagner Moura) has spent the majority of his storied career as a top UN diplomat working in the world’s most unstable regions, deftly navigating deals with presidents, revolutionaries, and war criminals for the sake of protecting the lives of ordinary people. But just as he readies himself for a simpler life with the woman he loves (Ana de Armas), Sergio takes one last assignment — in Baghdad, newly plunged into chaos following the US invasion. The assignment is meant to be brief, until a bomb blast causes the walls of the UN headquarters to come; quite literally crashing down upon him, setting into motion a gripping life-or-death struggle.

This is undoubtedly a story with some incredibly compelling and interesting moments, but it’s also one that isn’t entirely sure what it wants to be.  Part true life political drama, part sweeping romance; Sergio is more than a decent enough watch but had it picked a lane it could have been pretty great.

Director Greg Barker is a career documentarian (having also done the HBO doc about the man’s life) so it all unfolds in decent enough fashion and any imbalance in the story more or less gets washed away with the genuine sincerity of the people trying to tell the story.  It’s a little simplistic at times and never really wants to commit to a genre until the third act as the script from Craig Borten is trying to be honest about the kind of man that Sergio was, but never really dives in the minutia or the details behind it all.  It’s all got a very rounded ‘Coles Notes’ feeling to the man’s life which could have hindered it if not for some dynamic leading performances.

Wagner Moura is one step closer to being a breakout performer here in Sergio as he gives a carefully nuanced performance between a man who is emboldened by his passions and by trying to do the right thing.  While some of things he accomplished while he was alive could certainly be considered heroic, Moura never plays it as such.  Instead we get a flawed yet incredibly noble man who torn between his world at the UN and his passion for the woman he loves.  And as good as Moura is to watch, it’s Ana de Armas who is even better as she cares her fair share of the film.  While there are a couple of other significant players in Garret Dillahunt, Bradley Whitford and Brian F. O’Byrne who round it all out, they fall to the wayside, especially when the romance ramps up to full throttle in the third act.

Ultimately, Sergio plays well enough as we learn about this incredibly fascinating man but had it leaned into the politics that he lived as well as the romance of it all it could have be an epic experience.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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