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Last night, I watched a documentary about a man who, by being a spy, changed people's lives and, in turn, changed his own.

It began when he saw an advertisement in his newspaper that sought men between the ages of 80 and 90 to work for a 3 month job. The requirement was that the successful applicant had to be technically savvy and willing to deepen that knowledge. He would also have to live away from home for 3 months. 

A number of older gentlemen applied. One man was selected and his named was Sergio. 

The documentary "Mole Agent," directed by Maite Alberdi, is a heartwarming and poignant film that offers a unique perspective on aging, loneliness, and being a human being. Set in Chile, the documentary tells the story of Sergio, an 83-year-old widower who becomes a spy in a nursing home to investigate whether the residents are being mistreated.

The film starts with a private investigator named Romulo, who is hired by a woman to investigate her mother's care in a nursing home. Romulo is tasked with finding an "agent" to go undercover in the nursing home and report back on any mistreatment or abuse. He chooses Sergio, a charming and curious man who is looking for something to do in his retirement.

Sergio is trained to use a small camera hidden in his glasses to capture footage of the nursing home's staff and residents. He is also given a notebook to take notes on anything he observes. Sergio quickly becomes a beloved member of the community, forging relationships with the other residents and staff members.

Through Sergio's eyes, the documentary offered me a unique and often heartbreaking look at aging and loneliness. I saw how the residents of the nursing home long for connection and love, and how many of them have been forgotten by their families. Sergio forms a special bond with one resident named Marta, who reminds him of his late wife. Their relationship is touching and provides a glimpse into the importance of human connection, regardless of age.

It also made me realise that I probably wouldn't be any good as a spy. Hell, I won't use a mobile so I am pretty much buggered right there. 

As Sergio investigates the nursing home, he discovers that there is no mistreatment or abuse happening. Instead, he finds a community of people who are trying their best to care for the residents with limited resources. The staff members are overworked and underpaid, but they still find ways to make the residents' lives more comfortable and enjoyable.

Sergio's work as a spy was ultimately unnecessary, but it allowed him to find a sense of purpose and meaning in his own life. Through his experiences in the nursing home, he rediscovered the joy of human connection and the value of having a sense of purpose.

I laughed when he first arrived and the elderly ladies all delighted in his arrival: it was exciting. HE was exciting. He was well groomed, polite, respectful and most importantly, a GENTLEMAN. 

 

Throughout my own parents' time as entertainers in Nursing homes, I often heard the stories about how my late father was a favourite among the older residents who liked to invite him to see their rooms. He always politely declined but did so with good manners, grace and courtesy. His singing used to capture the hearts of the ladies and I would often sit in the audience and have a frail and thin hand touch my shoulder and have the words " Isn't he wonderful ? " whispered in my ear as he serenaded the group with his rendition of gospel songs, war songs or old favourites from their youth. 

 In fact, I spoke at great length with Redhead about this subject and we smiled as we remembered how his dulcet tones and crooning voice must have sounded like a lullaby of love to those dear,wonderful ladies. 

As Redhead would play the keyboard and my late Dad would sweetly serenade, the audience would sing along, smile and applaud. 

He must have been " their " very own Sergio. 

I commented to Mum how it must have been strange to see his " fan club " who only had eyes for him and none for her as she tickled the ivories and played support to the " star " and she said " I was happy to share his voice and his manners but he only ever had eyes for me so that was fine. " 

Whilst he may have been Manx, he still managed to have enough of the Irish in him to swoon and sweep the ladies off their feet and walking frames. 

After all, they just wanted their beloved men to come back to them 

 

 

The film highlights the importance of human connection, regardless of age. It is easy to forget about the elderly in our society, but they are just as deserving of love, companionship, and respect as anyone else. The documentary reminds us that a simple gesture of kindness or a friendly conversation can make a huge difference in someone's life.

I suppose, in many respects, my parents were " spies " when they entertained in Nursing homes, Care homes, respite centres. They were boots on the ground. 

They knew which centres were well run, which were not and which staff members were carers and those that didn't give a hoot. 

"The Mole Agent" has won several awards since its release. Some of the most notable awards and nominations include:

  • Academy Award Nomination for Best Documentary Feature in 2021.
  • Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Innovation in Non-fiction Storytelling in 2020.
  • IDA Documentary Awards Nomination for Best Feature in 2021.
  • Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Nomination for Best Documentary Feature in 2021.
  • International Documentary Association's Creative Recognition Award for Best Writing in 2021.

After the release of the documentary, Sergio continued to live his life in Chile. Unfortunately, in September 2021, it was reported that Sergio had passed away at the age of 90. The news of his passing was shared on the film's official Twitter account, and the director of the film, Maite Alberdi, also paid tribute to Sergio in a statement.

In her statement, Alberdi expressed her sadness at Sergio's passing and noted that he had become a dear friend and collaborator during the making of the film. She also reflected on the impact that Sergio had on her life and the lives of those who had seen the film, stating that he had become a symbol of hope and inspiration for many people around the world.

While Sergio may no longer be with us, his legacy lives on through the film, which continues to touch the hearts of people around the world.

It certainly did mine.

It's not entirely clear whether the woman who hired the private investigator in the film was a real client or a fictional character created for the purposes of the documentary. Director Maite Alberdi has stated in interviews that the character of the woman was inspired by real-life situations and people she had encountered during her research for the film. However, the identities of the real people behind the characters in the film have not been disclosed, and it's possible that some of the details were fictionalised for dramatic purposes.

Regardless of whether the client in the film was based on a real person, the issue of elderly care and the need to ensure the safety and well-being of elderly residents in nursing homes is a real and pressing concern in many parts of the world. The film raises important questions about the ethics of surveillance, the challenges of providing adequate care for elderly residents, and the importance of maintaining human dignity and respect for all individuals, regardless of age or ability.

Perhaps, instead of spending billions on a war in Ukraine or a referendum on a " Voice " or rights for trans activists; maybe, just maybe, the LidiaThorpes and Megan Markles of the world could get off their soap box and give their fathers a call and hug? 

Maybe we could all just give a bit of love and respect to the men and women who gave us life? 

It costs not one dollar to love, to care, to pick up and phone and say " Hi Mum " or " Hi Dad " 

and then say the words that so many no longer hear. 

" I love you. Thank you for being there for me and I am here for you. " 

After all, we are still young at heart and still see ourselves as we once were. 

 

 

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