A 3 Minute Hug Review: Netflix Reveals A Kind Initiative But Further Exposes America’s Cruel Policies

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 27, 2019 (Last updated: January 25, 2024)
Netflix Short Documentary A 3 Minute Hug


Another Netflix documentary that presents a broken, cruel immigration system in the USA. A 3 Minute Hug gives separated families a bittersweet moment.

Netflix Short Documentary A 3 Minute Hug will be released on the platform on October 28, 2019. 

In 2018, an initiative was set up to give families separated by the U.S.-Mexico Border a chance to see each other at a reunion. These families have been separated for years, and the initiative encourages celebrating hugs, not walls. A 3-minute hug is only allowed before their short reunion is brought to a bittersweet end.

The short documentary spends a few minutes playing phonecall recordings between separated families before the day. There’s a sense of anticipation but underlying sadness that reunions will be tarred by another separation. Netflix reveals a kind initiative but further exposes America’s cruel policies.

And to be frank, I did not feel comfortable with A 3 Minute Hug. I expected to enjoy a sense of elation, followed by sadness. Still, I could not help but feel compelled by the scenario that bubbles up before the families cross the demarcation line to embrace each other. The Netflix short documentary films both families looking at each other from afar, waving, some people crying before the organizers announce that both sides can cross.

It suddenly dawned on me that this is not normal. We are documenting families, yet we are now in a position in this world where loved ones are time-limited to see each other at charitable events. As an audience, you suddenly realize that we take visiting and living with family for granted. For many of us, we are not subjected to “zero tolerance” immigration policies that threaten family daily. We are lucky.

A 3 Minute Hug is well documented and raises a critical subject matter. The sadness that ekes through the screen is indicative of the tragic reality. The system is broken — globalisation is not working; it is failing.

The moments are sweet in A 3 Minute Hug. The short documentary plays a montage of scenes showing families hugging each other tightly. There are newborn babies, very ill elderlies, and toddlers who probably do not understand the true extent of this situation. For these families, this is the norm; ringing politicians and encouraging them to make charitable initiatives happen like this to have a little 3-minute hug with someone they love.

The most frustrating thoughts surface while watching A 3 Minute Hug. Will it make a difference? Will policymakers watch this striving to make a fundamental change? Will those who passionately support tough, inhumane laws change their minds when they realize how lucky they are? I sense that unless there’s a drastic political shift, we will find ourselves waiting a decade before we stop hearing of these unacceptable immigration stories.

Netflix Short Documentary A 3 Minute Hug deserves viewing for what it documents alone, but I get the sense many will walk away feeling disappointed in the world. Three minutes is not enough.

Movie Reviews, Netflix