The motto “reality is stranger than fiction” has never been more true than it is in The Mole, a riveting documentary following Ulrich Larsen, a retired Danish chef who ends up independently spying on the North Korean regime and their weapons deals for nearly a decade. It’s a crackpot narrative that sounds difficult to take seriously, but director Mads Brügger depicts Larsen’s experience with the sincerity and gravity it deserves.
Just when The Mole begins to feel stale, Brügger selectively introduces a new wrinkle, like a hotel with an underground meth lab. It makes the film feel like the third act twist in a James Bond movie. After The Mole and his previous film, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, it’s clear that Mads Brügger is the leading artistic authority on internationally intricate documentaries.
The Silver Lining
The Mole includes rare footage from the black box that is North Korea. While Larsen does capture Pyongyang, the country’s crown jewel, he also reveals the North Korea Kim Jong-un doesn’t want outsiders to see: A dying, desolate cityscape in desperate need of food and resources. Brügger’s documentary is worth watching for these devestating images alone.
The Mole is a part of DOC NYC’s (Nov 10-28th) 2021 lineup. Click here to learn more about how you can purchase a ticket for this title (for a digital screening).