Directed by Maite Alberdi
Featuring Sergio Chamy, Romulo Aitken, Marta Olivares, Berta Ureta
This may sound like a spy movie, and in a way it is, but it’s one of the more unlikely ones you’ll see. A retirement home in Chile is being investigated for possible elder abuse, so they decide to get an elderly person to infiltrate, spending three months there like any other elderly person there. They hire 83 year old Sergio, who isn’t too bad with a mobile phone for his age, and he gets to spying around the premises, using his spy-camera (hidden in a pen) to discover any wrong-doings.
Sergio’s snooping inadvertently causes him to become closer to these people, making him seem somewhat both aloof, yet interested in these people. He’s a strange addition to this home, where his actions seem unorthodox at times (why does he keep fiddling with his pen?), but he also becomes incredibly welcomed into the small culture of people spending the best (and last) times of their lives.
Both Sergio, the retirement home, and the documentary have their main sights diverted from trying to scope out elder abuse to then focus on the lives in the retirement home, the dynamics that come into play between these people, and the relationships that Sergio begins with them.
The Mole Agent sure is quaint, and captures a little slice of life from this specific area – just three months within just this retirement home and Sergio and the documentary are able to get a wide emotional scope of this place. There’s admittedly not too much excitement or intrigue within what the documentary uncovers, with the events remaining fairly pedestrian throughout this time, so this is not a documentary with big twists and turns in its proceedings.
The technical side of this documentary is very interesting, since it looks so much more like a narrative film. It’s difficult to wrap your head around how the doco crew were able to film this so covertly, as well as have it not look like a documentary at all, but it makes this world seem even more inviting.
This unique film-like documentary is delightful throughout, as it’s very revealing of this specific area and its specific group of people. This was filmed just before the COVID-19 pandemic and its portrayal of retirement homes is maybe a bit different to how it is now, but The Mole Agent is like a little window into the carefree sensibilities of these people, making it oddly more heartfelt to be watching now.
The Mole Agent plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, February 1 to Sunday, February 7. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au