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the mole agent

★★★★★

director: Maite Alberdi (the grown ups)

documentary

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

A private investigator in Chile hires someone to work as a mole at a retirement home where a client of his suspects the caretakers of elder abuse.

Cinematic surprises are a rarity these days. With films being promoted to the nth degree you sometimes walk into the cinema knowing the juicy plot twist before a frame of film is shown. Walking into this screening all I had seen was the poster and all I knew of the film was that it was being distributed by Madman, a company that consistently knocks it out of the park with the quality of films that they distribute (2021 being a particularly stellar year).

The Mole Agent did not disappoint. With a gentleness in approach and humour that will draw you in, The Mole Agent is a thoroughly entertaining and yet confronting ode to humanity and searing critique of our Western ideals regarding the elderly. 

In the Oscar nominated The Mole Agent, Sergio is a Chilean spy. Sort of. He is recruited by a private investigator who needs someone to infiltrate a retirement home for a client who suspects her mother is being abused.

However, Sergio is 83, not 007, and not an easy trainee when it comes to technology and espionage. But he is a keen student, looking for ways to distract himself after recently losing his wife. While gathering intelligence, Sergio grows close to several residents and realises that the menacing truth beneath the surface is not what anyone suspected.

The Mole Agent begins like some Pink Panther Get Smart hybrid with an octogenarian at the helm instead of a hapless French inspector or American agent. The opening act of the film is its most hilarious as Sergio struggles with the technology that will aid his surveillance and with being one of the most obvious spies ever captured on film. He would have been instantly discovered if it wasn’t for the fact that his subjects are completely oblivious to his activities due to age or illness or both. 

By the middle and final act The Mole Agent takes a 90 degree turn, smoothly and with great directorial aplomb from Maite Alberdi, away from the comedic elements to the more serious themes of elder neglect.

 

Part of the power of these moments Sergio experiences with the residents is down to this superb direction but also the honesty and frank openness of the residents themselves. It will leave you with tears in your eyes and questions in your heart regarding how we view, value and treat the elderly in our society. 

With a gentleness in approach and humour that will draw you in, The Mole Agent is a thoroughly entertaining and yet confronting ode to humanity and searing critique of our Western ideals regarding the elderly.

★★★★★