I liked the structure of this film. So many documentaries (well, at least, those I have seen) tend to follow a traditional timeline, but Sergio bounces back and forth between Sergio's personal history, his accomplishments within the UN, interviews from friends and family, and the accounts from two of the men who attempted to save his life.
"Touching" may not fully encompass the multitude of emotions that this film touches upon. In the end, a profound sense of loss- not only for this man's life but for how many other lives may have been affected by his presence, was what I was left with once the credits rolled.
I would highly recommend this film for people who enjoy documentaries or are interested in recent history... though I must admit I don't know if this would be of the type I could watch repeatedly due to its heavy emotional nature.
What first and foremost connects us to Sergio is what connects us to the protagonist in any narrative film: he's a likable guy. Handsome, charismatic, hardworking, and unquestionably devoted to the cause of human rights, Sergio was the kind of guy everyone wanted to know, "good guys" and "bad guys" alike, and was the only member of the United Nations whose reputation was so prolific that he was referred to by his first name only. He carried himself with an air of confidence and understanding and was the rare kind of man who both thrived in and longed to be in the spotlight. He was also unconventional and controversial in his methods for trying to maintain peace and order and fell under scrutiny from some for his willingness to negotiate with Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, despite the results he achieved by doing so. It was this ability to approach and relate to powers on any level that allowed him to become the U.N. Transitional Administrator in East Timor, guiding the Indonesian-occupied country to independence, never once letting power or privilege tempt or influence him.
When offered the position of Special Representative for the U.N. Secretary General to Iraq, he initially turned it down. Though he celebrated the disposal of Saddam, he was vehement against the U.S. occupation and outspoken in his views of humanitarian crimes occurring there. Eventually he was convinced by President Bush and Condoleezza Rice and he accepted the position, feeling, like many others, that if anyone could do some good there, it would be him. Ironically, it was his decision for the sake of human rights that lead to his death. Though there representing the United Nations, al-Qaeda forces saw his accepting the position as a sign that he had become a lapdog for the United States and took action.
Though his death would have been tragic in and amongst itself, the true tragedy comes in the form of a botched excuse for a rescue attempt during which the only staff and equipment that could be provided for Sergio's rescue were two soldiers and a handbag with a curtain chord for hauling out bricks. Buried beneath two floors of rubble was one of the most heralded international with the unequivocal influence to bring people together and inspire change, and he never saw his fiancee or children again because there were neither enough soldiers to guard nor respond. There are many documentaries and feature films out there that attempt to convey the futility and fallout of the Iraq invasion, but Sergio succeeds where others fail because it avoids the psychic numbing addressed in Reporter and adds the personal touch to which people can relate and truly weigh the cost of the war.