An 83-year-old spy goes undercover in the surprising documentary The Mole Agent

click to enlarge The Mole Agent
The Mole Agent

Here's one of the real hidden gems of the year, an unusual documentary from Chile that blends detective fiction tropes with verite filmmaking.

The film, directed by Maite Alberdi, begins with a quirky premise. A private investigator has been hired to uncover possible elder abuse at a local retirement home, and so he puts a classified ad in the paper searching for an elderly man who can move into the home and be his unassuming mole. The guy who gets the gig is named Sergio, and he quickly befriends the suspected victim, sending his dispatches back to the P.I.

The Mole Agent seems to be heading in a too-cutesy direction, as Sergio finds kinship and friendship, distracting him from his original assignment. There are also scenes that are most certainly staged for the cameras, and moments where you wonder how Alberdi could've gotten such unrestricted access. But there are truths in the film, particularly about aging and the cultural disposal of the elderly, because Sergio finds that the greatest threat facing the seniors isn't abandonment from the staff but from their own families.

This is one of those movies that's going to pull you in with a silly gimmick and then blindside you with a serious social message. For rent on Amazon and iTunes. 

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About The Author

Nathan Weinbender

Nathan Weinbender is the Inlander's Music & Film editor. He is also a film critic for Spokane Public Radio, where he has co-hosted the weekly film review show Movies 101 since 2011.