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Wagner Moura and Ana de Armas in Sergio (2020)Review

Sergio (History, Drama) [True Story] (2020)


Director: Greg Barker

Writers: Craig Borten (Screenplay) Samantha Power (Based on the book by)

Stars: Wagner Moura, Ana de Armas, Brían F. O'Byrne, Bradley Whitford

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The film Sergio is based on the UN diplomat’s mission to restore Iraq after the US’ invasion of the country. Sergio Vieira de Mello was a passionate and charismatic individual who had spent a lot of his life working for the UN in peace efforts for countries like East Timor and Iraq solving problems and making compromises with US officials, revolutionaries and war criminals for the sake of restoring the lives of regular citizens of the countries he was deployed in.

In the opening of the film, we see Sergio (Wagner Moura) and some colleagues including later love interest Carolina (Ana de Armas) make their way to the UN offices set up in an Iraqi hotel. We see Sergio instantly affected by the soldiers he sees on the street roughly handling citizens of this country who see them as the invaders. This is a sentiment that carries through throughout the film.

While a decent introduction to the character of Sergio de Vieira de Mello it did feel a bit jumbled with edited in scenes taken from real life and mixing them with the acted scenes, I’ve seen this done very well before, but that was mainly done by choosing to focus more on either the performed material or the real footage, in this case, it is almost an equal mix, but it does just felt messy. Luckily after the drive to the UN office in Iraq, they did not really continue using real footage or at least they only did so minimally.

The script serving the life story leading up to the tragic event of the UN offices being destroyed due to a bombing claimed by Al-Qaeda and throughout we see Sergio’s endeavors in both Iraq and previous missions to East Timor and some others, serving the build-up of the story. Here’s where I feel most of the film falls through, everything is told through these flashbacks and flash-forwards, and it took me out of a possibly proper political drama, for some this might be fine, but I’d have preferred a more linear movie structure. While the style works decently at deepening Sergio’s character and introducing the viewer to his motives, a lot of it also focuses on his budding relationship with Carolina.

That last point kind of turns it more into a romance story and other things fall by the wayside; if someone would recut the movie with proper linear progression I feel like I’d have enjoyed the film, sadly it turned out not to be much of a political drama at all focusing on self-discovery and love instead.

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A biography that focuses on the wrong things, telling a story in a way that doesn’t work.