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.