Sergio Parent Guide
Netflix: With profanity and possible full frontal male nudity, this film doesn't make the cut for teen friendly edu-tainment.
Parent Movie Review
Sergio Vieira de Mello (Wagner Moura) has been one of the United Nations’ most talented diplomats. The Brazilian’s service in East Timor resulted in a remarkable conclusion to a violent conflict, and while there he met Carolina (Ana de Armas), a young economic justice expert assigned to the same mission. Their budding relationship is put on hold when the United States invades Iraq in 2003, and he is dispatched to Baghdad to promote peace in the region. When his headquarters is bombed by al-Qaeda, Sergio finds himself pinned under the building, dreaming of his past.
Historical films must walk a fine line between accuracy and narrative structure. Real life seldom has the requisite simplicity and clear linear nature which films are built on. As such, you tend to see some odd changes - more than just the aesthetic alteration to the cast. In this case, the film is fairly up front with some of those changes: Gil (Brian F O’Byrne), for instance, is a composite character, containing elements of real people, which is acknowledged in the closing credits. But it’s worth pointing out that this isn’t pure history, and if you’re curious about any of these events, Netflix probably isn’t the best source for solid social sciences research.
Sergio also stumbles a bit as an educational tool because of its dogged pursuit of a love story amidst the chaos. While the romance personalizes the characters, it also slightly muddles the narrative. And speaking of muddling… Sergio contains a sex scene with a certain amount of nudity. I would love to be more specific for you, but since Netflix has lowered their streaming quality to cope with the increased demand brought on by coronavirus self isolation, I genuinely cannot tell if there is full frontal male nudity. Maybe there is, maybe it’s just Netflix, or maybe there was always a convenient shadow in that part of the frame.
The Iraq War has been a fertile ground for filmmaking for some time now, with most films focusing on the American perspective. It is certainly refreshing to see a movie which addresses other sides of that story, with a perspective more focused on the international community and the breakdown of human rights in Iraq. And while the cast is charming, the film has too much nudity and profanity to serve as “edu-tainment”, and the story is too muddled to function as a solid historical resource. But it does work well as a jumping-off point for questions about the modern role of the United Nations, the invasion of Iraq, and the nature of diplomacy in the 21st century. Not too bad for a blurry little Netflix production.Directed by Greg Barker. Starring Wagner Moura, Ana de Armas, and Brian F. O'Byrne. Running time: 118 minutes. Theatrical release April 17, 2020. Updated May 8, 2020
Watch the trailer for Sergio
Rating & Content Info
Why is Sergio rated R? Sergio is rated R by the MPAA for language, some bloody images and a scene of sexuality.
Violence: A bomb goes off, injuring and killing dozens of people. People are shown with graphic injuries as a result, including cuts, burns, and missing limbs.
Sexual Content: A man and woman are shown partially nude during a sex scene.
Profanity: There are 12 uses of the sexual expletive, as well as a number of terms of deity and moderate profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are shown smoking and drinking alcohol. There is a scene which briefly depicts an individual as intoxicated.
Page last updated May 8, 2020
Sergio Parents' Guide
Sergio takes a huge risk by dismissing his U.S. army security. Why does he decide to do that? Do you think that was a risk he was justified in taking? What benefits might that have offered him were his headquarters not bombed?
The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties, many of which were civilians. What was the official justification for the invasion? Why was the U.N. unwilling to sanction it? What truths came out over the course of the war which undermined that original justification? How has the role of the occupation force changed as the war goes on?
The Washington Post: 15 years after the Iraq War began, the death toll is still murky
Council on Foreign Relations: The Iraq War
Encyclopedia Britannica: Iraq War
There are several mentions throughout the movie about the Abu Ghraib prison, which opened in the 1950s as a torture chamber and maximum-security prison for the Iraqi government, and which was extensively used as such for the political enemies of Saddam Hussein. Following the 2003 invasion, the U.S. used the site for a detention center and interrogation facility. In the years since, Abu Ghraib has become infamous for the numerous human rights abuses committed within its walls. What did the United States hope to achieve there?
CNN: Torture at Abu Ghraib (warning: potentially disturbing photos)
Human Rights Watch: The Road to Abu Ghraib
Loved this movie? Try these books…
In The Forever War, foreign correspondent Dexter Filkins provides an expansive look at the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, set in a broad historical context.
Peter Van Buren of the US State Department recounts the serial failures of the United States in post-war Iraq in We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.
The American occupation of Iraq is dissected in Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, was awarded Best Book of the Year by The New York Times.
Romeo Dallaire’s memoir, “Shake Hands with the Devil” recounts his experience as force commander of the U.N. mission to Rwanda in the early 1990s and the tragic consequences of the U.N.’s mismanagement of the genocide. A film adaptation starring Roy Dupuis is an excellent alternative.
Related home video titles:
Green Zone, starring Matt Damon, relates the early days of the war in Iraq from the perspective of Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller as he hunts down a rogue Iraqi general and navigates the political intrigue around the coalition search for W.M.D.
Following a similar “pinned-under-a-building” story, World Trade Center features Nicolas Cage as real-life Port Authority officer John McLoughlin as he finds himself trapped during the 9/11 attacks on New York City.
Official Secrets tells the story of real-life whistleblower Katharine Gunn, who leaked sensitive information about the United States attempting to bully other U.N. members into supporting their invasion of Iraq.