The Mole Agent (El agente topo) is a wonderful documentary about an 84-year-old man who is hired to infiltrate a rest home and find out if one of the patients is being robbed and abused. From its trailer and its poster, you might think that The Mole Agent is a comedy. It’s not.
Filmmaker Maite Alberdi has a history of making documentaries about people who are overlooked by the media and, more often than not, by the larger society as well. Among her previous films are The Grown-Ups (2016) about long-time Down Syndrome friends, including a couple who want to marry; I Am Not from Here (2016) a short about an 88-year-old woman who thinks she has just arrived from Basque country, but has really been in Chile for 70 years; and La Once (2014) about a group of women, including her grandmother, who have met together for tea and pastries once a month for 60 years.
In The Mole Agent, recently widowed Sergio Chamy answers a newspaper ad placed by a private detective and is chosen to be the rest home spy. The detective gives him a pen with a hidden camera on top and teaches him various skills, like how to use WhatsApp and how to file a report. When Sergio arrives at the rest home, accompanied by his daughter and son-in-law, he is warmly received. After all, the other residents are more than 40 women and only four men.
Alberdi managed to also insert in the rest home a small documentary film crew (including herself) to supplement Sergio’s surreptitious filming. Although Sergio does his best to complete his mission, he is a compassionate man, and he soon takes a special interest in some of the more needy residents. For example, one woman wants to marry and get out. Another is having trouble coming to terms with her deteriorating mental condition. And another, like the subject of I Am Not from Here, is living in an alternative reality.
Like Sergio, The Mole Agent is a warm and compassionate film.