“The Mole Agent”: Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 93rd Academy Awards

I see so many great films every year that are superb films but none ever make it to the Academy Awards. It is a bit like wine where you see on the label all sorts of awards and medals. Rarely does it translate into what I would call a gold medal wine. In these wine competitions you pay your fees to have judges with overloaded and burnt-out palates testing and scoring your wines. I have tried many Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and Italian wines you will never see on the shelves in Ontario but whup ass over the hyped “gold medalled darlings”!

But I will give you the skinny on “The Mole Agent”. It is one of those documentaries that seamlessly slides into the film category. After watching it I am still asking, “Are you sure this is a documentary?”

In a sense it is a feel good and light movie as far as the plot goes but given the ravages of COVID in long term care facilities perhaps it is a bittersweet movie.

Sergio is a “mole” or spy if you prefer. Sergio works as a senior for a Chilean private detective agency and is planted in a senior’s residence to report as to whether the client’s mother, Sonia Perez, is beaten, abused and robbed. Sergio has a three-month assignment.

But the seniors are well taken care of by the staff but most feel abandoned by their families. Some are bitter and some simply accept it but the abandonment by the family is a sort of elder abuse. One elderly lady laments that she did everything for her son and wife and her grandchildren but when she became sick she was no longer of use to them.

Actually Sergio finds that Sonia is chronically anti-social but otherwise dong quite well. Sergio does discover a thief but we are not left with any facts she has stolen Sonia’s property.

Sergio notes that Sonia’s daughter expresses great concern about her well being but when the rubber hits the road she has never taken the time to visit her mother.

Sergio is a kind soul and becomes loved by all the residents and is thrown a big 84th birthday party.

The residents are portraying themselves and do the best they can to live out their last days with a sense of camaraderie. Sergio’s final report is that the residents are lonely and feel abandoned and that loneliness is the worst thing about this place. Sonia is receiving good care. Sergio does not understand the purpose of his investigation and suggests the daughter should face her own fault for not even caring enough to visit her mother.

As a part time job during my university days I worked in a long term care facility in Montreal and the memory of so many elderly and sick people pops up in my mind. I gave them the best care I could and thy were grateful. They were well taken care off by the staff and management was on its toes. Being so busy I never really had the chance that Sergio did to probe deeply. But so many sick and twisted people. Beware my dear readers this could be you. Would your loved one’s leave you behind?

Chilean director Maite Alberdi has the last word, “It’s a honour to have been among such an extraordinary range of remarkable films on the shortlist and we are truly grateful to the Academy and to the Documentary Branch. For a Latin American female led team, this type of dream seems impossible, but this year has taught us to see life from a different angle. This nomination signifies to every elder that the world still sees them and values them and helps us remember that it’s not just important to increase life expectancy, but the desire to live. This year, after so many losses, we took a look at our seniors again and understand that they were living in a pandemic prior to COVID- the “pandemic of loneliness”- and we are proud to see how “The Mole Agent” has helped families reconnect with their elders.”

According to the official website for the film themoleagentfilm.com the documentary is streaming in the USA, Great Britain and Chile. Now as we move closer to the Academy Awards streaming may be available in Canada but the documentary is available at DVD sellers in Canada such as Amazon. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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