THE MOLE AGENT
THREE STARS Sergio goes undercover at a nursing home to spy on the residents.
DOCUMENTARY Chile Spanish Language #THEMOLEAGENT
THE MOLE AGENT is a documentary that really is too clever for its own good. A Chilean detective agency is looking for an elderly gentleman who still has his wits, can use a camera, a mobile phone and bear reliable witness. He’ll be sent into a nursing home on behalf of the agency’s client to check up on her mum. Why she can’t (won’t?) visit herself is unclear. Sergio is chosen as the mole and dispatched to spy on the staff and their patients.
So far so intriguing, but the premise quickly unravels due to the camera crew who follow Sergio around. They’ve already got permission to film in the home and are in on his deceit: they’ll show interest in the newcomer because, well, he’s new, and capture his story. The gum-shoe trappings feel as contrived as they are and simply underline how unnecessary the subterfuge is since the film-makers already have an access-all-areas pass. Just roll camera, let’s see what happens.
Once the hokey spy-style introduction settles, Sergio’s view of the home and its residents is, in the main, compelling. He’s one of the few fit and able bodies inside the home and he quickly makes new friends. His relationships sheds light on living in a nursing home and, for some, what passes for living. One woman takes a shine to the dapper, witty gentleman and attempts to form an attachment. He gently lets her down in a manner as sweet and touching as the companionship he offers other souls each coping with their reasons for being in the residence. However, and gratingly, we learn little that’s meaningful about the woman he’s been sent to spy on, nor the family who are unwilling or unable to visit her. It’s as if the filmmakers, like her daughter, just lost interest.
It underlines the nagging feeling that a fascinating documentary is hiding just behind the skirts of the one we get to see. The material is there, the lead is charming as are the residents he gets to know. Their stories touch, albeit spasmodically and disconnected, all that it is to be old in a world that covets the young. It's such a shame that they get so lost in the confected cloak-and-dagger trappings.