This week has been a long one, and there’s still somehow one day left. I think this week’s exhaustion stems back to Sunday’s time change. All this is to say that today is another short entry for me, but hopefully I’ll be back in the swing of things this weekend. While yesterday marked the last film in the international feature category, today’s film was also an international offering; only this time it’s nominated for documentary feature.
The Mole Agent (2020, Dir. Maite Alberdi)
As a narrative the premise behind The Mole Agent is primed for farce. An elderly man, Sergio Chamy, is conscripted by a private investigator to go undercover in a retirement home to keep tabs on another resident. Sergio initially bumbles with technology but is eventually able to understand things well enough to enter the home and begin spying on his target. Once in the home, he quickly becomes the most popular man there and must balance his spying activities with being a convincible resident.
I specifically called out that the premise would work as a narrative because the same story viewed through a lens of reality is exploitative and sleezy in a way that strips the film of much of its joy. Sergio seems lucid enough, but it is hard to look at the women he records and emotionally manipulates as anything but victims. One of the residents falls in love with the conman and is turned down unceremoniously by a man who has no intention of remaining at the facility once his job is complete, and all of them are constantly recorded without the purpose being known. There are extended scenes with residents clearly suffering from dementia that could not have been consented to. Everything about the film just made me feel too dirty to enjoy.