Review of the film “Sergio” (2020) produced by Netflix, with Wagner Moura, and Ana de Armas.
Sergio Vieira de Mello (Wagner Moura) was born in Rio de Janeiro, the son of a brazilian diplomat. At the age of 21 years old, began his career in the United Nations. Thanks to his charm, assertiveness and unwavering determination to create peace, rises quickly within the organization. Time and again assigned missions are particularly difficult, as the tense negotiations for the independence of East Timor from Indonesia. There Sergio meets and falls in love with the much younger economist of argentina to the UN, Carolina Larriera (Ana de Armas).
In 2005, the specialist in political documentaries Greg Barker (Manhunt – The Hunt for Bin Laden) tried for the first time in greater detail the life and work of Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died in a bomb attack in Iraq in the year 2003. The diplomat from the UN was a close confidant and a collaborator of the high-level of Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the UN from 1997 to 2006.
According to his own statement, the director saw the biography agitated by the brazilian at that time as suitable material for his first feature film. However, in the end, Barker decided to produce the documentary Sergio, which premiered in 2009 and was nominated for several renowned awards.
Eleven years later, Barker has completed his cycle of this character. With the help of screenwriter Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club) and the support of the streaming service Netflix, he took as a model his own documentary, as well as biography Chasing The Flame written by Samantha Powers, and it is there from where comes the feature film Sergio, a biography with dramatic elements, thriller, and romantic, and has a very good pint, but where the narration at times has the wrong priorities.
A freedom that takes away the drama; the film does not adhere to the guidelines chronological. For example, instead of covering the entire life of the diplomat, were selected individual stations. To avoid that is to stand completely and abruptly next to each other, Sergio it has a kind of story framework. More precisely, it is the attack in Iraq that claimed the life of the diplomat, which is always the starting point for the trip at the time. But Barker didn’t even try to relate the two facts directly and to establish cross-connections. Rather, his biopic is a kind of collage of moments is more diverse, that together should form a film. First bad decision.
In the course of the two hours we meet the hero of the title as a man brave and unwavering at the same time, but it can also respond with empathy to the concerns of the people, this idea works comparatively well. And for all the matter does not degenerate too much in the pure worship of the hero-a common danger with such portraits, whether they be documentaries or fictional – it allows you to be so obsessed with his work that his private environment suffers. This works best in two scenes really touching involving their two children. Less highlighted is the relationship with Carolina, that we accompany them from the first encounter until the sad end.
Sergio is Wagner Moura, who became world famous with his brilliant picture of the lord drug Pablo Escobar in Narcos, and presents its main role as a man empathetic, committed and sympathetic, exactly as Vieira de Mello as Barker in his documentary film, 2009 and other archival materials on his person. However, it also gives shades, for that Moura did not offer simply an imitation of the real person, but we present a Sergio very specific.
This comes, for example, in a kind of a history framed around numerous flashbacks. The scenes under the rubble of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, after an attack of a precursor of ISIS, on August 19, 2003, are the best without doubt of the film.
In the private moments that are not so documented, are those in which Moura, who also serves as producer here, he gives the character a lot of emotional depth. Your Vieira de Mello was presented with some weaknesses. For example, there is a scene in his house, with his family in Rio de Janeiro, in which the protagonist interacts with their teens and shows that it is not what we would say to a parent of loving.
And then, of course, are the passages romantic with his girlfriend, played by Ana de Armas. The duo of performers fits, both in a harmonious relationship as well as in scenes in which their characters are under enormous pressure professional. The connection of love, as well as the bond of trust and mutual respect between them are always credible, however, this love story is the biggest problem of the film.
For very visually appealing and touching is the relationship of the cameraman Adrian Teijido, it is unnecessarily extensive, especially in a biographical film about a man who has experienced and accomplished so many things exciting and politically relevant. There is always a deviation from these achievements to present to us in change private things, comparatively irrelevant, within two hours of footage, which is particularly noticeable around the thorny events in East Timor, where Sergio Vieira de Mello is supposed to carry the country, which has been under indonesian occupation for a long time, to independence in the framework of a mission of the United Nations.
Barker and his team created a film very elaborate and based on flashbacks (filmed in Thailand) in the negotiations, sometimes with danger of death. But in place of a more in-depth events, Barker serves up scenes of love of one minute in length, which make us to forget the importance of the conflict, and the eye, it is not that I’m complaining about seeing Ana de Armas. Even though the individual passages are filmed so atmospheric, they don’t do much to move the plot forward or reveal interesting details about the diplomatic skills of the main character.
More exciting are the sequences of Moura with Bradley Whitford, who portrays Paul Bremer, although it is obvious in the first few seconds that Whitford will be the antagonist of the film. However, the verbal skirmishes between the two actors are a pleasure. With the help of sequences filmed in Jordan, intelligently supplemented with archival footage of news segments real, we can feel literally, how then is open situation of Iraq could slide towards disaster of the occupation that was going to dominate the headlines for years.
Here illustrates vividly that not only was the fault of the americans, who were ruthlessly arrogant and acted like an elephant in a shop of porcelain, but the UN mission, led by mr. Vieira de Mello, could have done things differently, maybe even had to do them differently. These are the findings relating to an amazing career as a diplomat, of the which the work visual and emotional could have contributed much more, and maybe they should have done.