Gill Fickling

Do not watch this film if you are on the verge of committing yourself, or being committed, to an old people’s home. It will make you inclined to fall on your sword instead. That being said, if you feel like a good laugh followed by a good cry, then this is the film for you. A quirky documentary that you think is a drama at first due to its tantalising opening shots, this is the story of Sergio, an octogenarian recruited by a private detective as an undercover spy, to be planted in a residential care home for the elderly in Chile. The task: to find out whether one of the home’s residents, the mother of the detective’s client, is being maltreated by the carers.
After some touchingly funny scenes of Sergio grappling with the digital tools of his new trade – from learning how to send daily reports via social media to the wearing of spectacles housing a hidden camera – our spy settles into the home only to become an instant hit with the residents. With a 40:4 ratio of women to men, and Sergio seemingly the only male to still have his faculties intact, it’s hardly surprising! But as his time in the home progresses, his focus switches from the task of espionage to that of a deep concern at the abandonment endured by his new friends. With no signs of maltreatment in the home on the side of the staff, the film, and Sergio, lead us to feel that it is the structure of society that is the real abuser, a society that encourages families to abandon their elderly relatives to the sad confines of such institutions. A thought-provoking film on the sadness of old age.

Director: Maite Alberdi. Watch on YouTube, Curzon Home Cinema or general release.

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