THE MOLE AGENT – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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An elderly Chilean man, Sergio, spots a want ad in a newspaper that requires applicants to be a male retiree between the ages of 80 and 90 as a 007-like theme plays in the background. They need to be “independent, discrete and competent with technology.” Hence, that is the way Maite Alberdi’s hybrid doc/secret-agent thriller The Mole Agent kicks off.

Age issues definitely come into play since Sergio, a widower and former spy guy is hired by detective Romulo Aitkin, who is akin to James Bond’s Q. His mission? To infiltrate a nursing home for three months after a woman suspects her mother, who is a resident, might be a victim of abuse and theft. All the applicants are delighted to be considered given that their age is so often seen more than a deterrent. But their online tech skills are not quite up to snuff.

However, Sergio’s lack of prowess with FaceTime and WhatsApp is more than compensated by his charming personality and conversational gifts, especially with the females who take note of his arrival during a snack break. “He’s a gentleman,” one declares, while adding, “He looks lucid.” He has a way of making the women, who way outnumber the men, feel special as he listens to their poems and asks them about their families. He’s kind to the senile and to the chatty.

He finally finds his target, Sonia, after becoming acquainted with the 39 other women at the home. Romulo wants him to keep away from her as to not to raise suspicion. But soon, the investigation soon takes a backseat to examining the often lonely existence of the elderly. Sonia likes to talk to the statue of Christ near the entry way after being silent elsewise every day. He checks out a clean bedroom, but the shower is left running in the bathroom and it stinks like urine. The bedridden are the saddest cases, with their monotonous existence. As Sergio sends his boss daily details that he observes in this cloistered way of life, his reports become more personal and the doc portion of the film takes over as teary episodes, angry outbursts and death enters the picture.

Sergio becomes a kind of a social savior – he is even crowned the king of the nursing home during a celebration – just by lending an ear and a helping hand to one and all that need it. Spy tales usually are filled with violence and intrigue. But in this one, empathy saves the day.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mole Agent is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for August 28, 2020

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.