* Prices may differ from that shown
Star - Deceit
Genre - Documentary
Certificate - R18
Run Time - 99 minutes
Country - USA
Blockbuster Rental- £0.99 per night
Awards - 1 BAFTA
Amazon -£.00 DVD (£.00 Blue Ray)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Andy Warhol's only contribution of note to society for me was that famous quote that 'everyone will be famous for 15 minutes'. What it means is left up to interpretation, the brilliance of it. But for me it means we all want to matter and be noticed at some point in our hollow lives, for whatever reason, be it a place on reality TV show or saving a puppy from an icy river. The best and most intelligent documentaries often tap into that emotional human need to matter, all about the often uncomfortable human stain left when we do unconventional and strange things to get that attention, The Imposter one of the best on that intrusive topic.
There's a great documentary from America called 'My Kid Can Paint That. It deals with some typical middle-class parents letting go of their dreams by having kids and seeking that lost attention through their children by appearing to make out their four-year-old daughter is a brilliant artist, preceding to fake paintings and selling them for big bucks on her behalf, a mostly unaware and wowed public buying into the subterfuge. It's revealed in the film towards the end that dad can indeed paint, and mum turned a blind eye to their morally corrupt and the rather sad antics of said father. The minutia of what we really get up to behind closed doors always makes for fascinating viewing. The true story of Princess Diana, for example, would be far more eye opening and unexpected to the one unpeeled by the tabloids every week back then.
The Imposter explores the 'apparent' true story (you never really know with this type of documentary) of the disappearance of blue-eyed American boy Nicholas Barclay, a then 13-year old who went missing in Texas in 1994 on the way home from school and mysteriously turned up in Spain, of all places, alive and well in 1997. At first we are led to believe this kid really is Nicholas Barclay and so an extraordinary story about how he got there about to unfold. But it's not Nicholas and an even more extraordinary story unfolds on screen thereafter. It's a 23-year-old Algerian guy, Frédéric Bourdin, down on his luck and so decides to call the police and randomly pretend to be an American kid lost in Spain, lying to the cops that he was abducted by high level bad people in America and transported to Europe to be sexually abused.
Even though his accent is not very American the cops go along with it and start looking through files to see who has been abducted in America of late matching his description. After a while the Spanish authorities, in conjunction with the Americans on the other end of the phone line, decide he could well be Nicholas Barclay and let's make further calls to get things in motion. To cut a long story short he is quickly on the phone talking to the shocked Barclay family back in Texas to begin the unlikely deception and Nicholas Barkley sister is soon on the plane to Spain to pick him up, once the Spanish judiciary has Ok'd the flight back to America and his new life. Surely she knows enough from his voice that this is not her brother? Bourdin, of course, is more than aware of this and how on earth will he carry it off when she sees him, deciding to dye his hair and change his accent, where the film takes a big turn and even bigger twist as he doesn't have to try to hard. He likes how far he has got and the attention he is receiving and so why not go with it?
In Texas he is welcomed as their own, bizarrely so, US citizenship granted and enrolled in a local school as if he had never been away. Thank the Lord he has been found alive is the attitude. But some locals are suspicious and a private eye is employed to discover his true identity, where the film welcomes back its sanity and the viewer. But sis (Carey Gibson) is determined to be convinced this guy is her brother Nicholas, and the FBI, DNA tests, immigration, the cops and a private eye are not going to stop her having a son back. But why?
* Frédéric Bourdin
* Carey Gibson
* Beverly Dollarhide
* Bryan Gibson
* Codey Gibson
* Nancy Fisher
* Charlie Parker
* Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D
* Philip French
===Cast for drama sequences===
Adam O'Brian as Frédéric Bourdin
Anna Ruben as Carey Gibson
Cathy Dresbach as Nancy Fisher
Alan Teichman as Charlie Parker
Ivan Villanueva as Social Worker
Maria Jesus Hoyos as Judge
Anton Marti as Male Police Officer
Amparo Fontanet as Female Police Officer
Ken Appledorn as U.S. Embassy Official
Intriguing and fascinating are just two words of many to describe this. But how real is it? If you YouTube the story it really did happen but feels like it has indeed been fleshed out with a big dose of that intrigue and conjecture to build the narrative. As we have seen in America recently, these missing kids can suddenly turn up after being locked away and so no real reason to believe the family didn't think it was their boy at first. But statements made in the film, like that this was the first kid to assume the ID of an American in history are somewhat disingenuous. Most young Mexicans kids have to do that in America at some point. Documentary makers often put statements in like that to get you onside and make you believe you are watching something unique here, Michael Moore brilliant at it.
The use of actors for recreations, interpolated with the real life incumbent interviews and testimonies, does make things even more distracting on who is the real person involved and who is the actor. I like to read peoples body language to try and work out if they are lying or being evasive and we just don't get enough chances to do that here. Maybe it's for legal reasons or maybe because it would give the game away. The real Frédéric Bourdin does do lots of talking heads and a fascinating interviewee, this, exactly what an attention seeker wants and why certain parts of the film may have been embellished, maybe?
For me the fascination lays in the family's acceptance of the boy they clearly know not to be their own. Surely that's risky and the kids a nut job? The film invites the viewer to speculate early on that very contradiction. Perhaps the family needed the boy to be alive for other reasons? Or, did acceptance of this kid into their lives bring the media attention the family had missed when the original abduction took place? Is this a bit of the old Munchhausen Syndrome? That's what these films are often about and why they are so fascinating.
Whatever it is, it did $2 million to date from its target audience and very interesting and engaging too. I love films and documentaries that don't preach and leave it up to you to decide and director Burt Layton certainly does that. The ending ties up the lose ends the film has set out to be true and refuses to lay blame on anyone but it does rise and fall on how true you think it is. We know Karl Pilkington is not an idiot but we buy into so we can joyously agree with his xenophobic views on foreigners. I think we want to believe in these documentaries, as they are told, as we all have that dark side like this that lurks beneath. Good stuff.
Imdb.com - 7.5/10.0 (15,324 votes)
Metacrtic.com - 77% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - 96% critic's approval
The Guardian -'When this film was over, I felt as if I had been holding my breath for 99 minutes. It is pure, delicious suspense'
Globe & Mail -'In the annals of forged identity flicks, this is a towering Everest, dwarfing the deceivers in the likes of Catch Me If You Can and F for Fake'.
Toronto Star -'This is edge-of-your-seat stuff and the difficulty is in the telling of the tale. To give any of this film away is a crime. You simply have to see it for yourself'.
Ls Vegas -'Credit director Bart Layton for taking a subject that appears barely capable of propping up hour-long, true-crime cable programming and turning it into compelling, full-length documentary'
The Sun -'.The Imposter at every stage reveals another layer of the bizarreness of which human beings are capable'.
Urban Cine -'The revelations never stop. The title tells us what the story is about, but it is impossible to imagine the complex elements that involve not only the central character, but those who accept him as the person he pretends to be'.
Reel Film reviews -'one of the most involving and compelling documentaries to come around in quite some time'.
Chicago reader -'You may begin to wonder if you aren't being conned by the movie yourself'.
= = = = = = = = =
The Imposter is documentary based on a true story.
The Documentary begins by describing the events that began in 1993, an eleven year old American boy called Nicholas Barkley leaves him home in San Antonio Texas but he never returns home. The police and authorities conduct searches for him but he is not found.
In Spain three years later Frederic Bourdin hears of the disappearance of Nicholas Barkley and this sets of an extraordinary chain of events. Bourdin was a desperate man in trouble, on the run from the authorities and in need of disappearing from the radar. He is picked up on a rainy night by the Spanish authorities and taken to a shelter for boys, he is questioned but refuses to give his identity. Fearing his real identity will send him to prison, Bourdin decides to take the identity of the missing boy Nicholas Barkley instead. Much to his surprise his story is believed and the Barkleys family are informed that their missing boy has been found in Spain.
Within days Nicholas Barkleys sister books a flight to Spain to collect her brother and bring him home. Bourdin is left feeling more scared than ever, once the sister arrives she would of course know that he is not the missing boy at all but rather an imposter on the run. After seeing a photo of the boy he realises how little he resembles him, to start with Bourdin and Nicholas Barkley had different coloured hair and eyes plus Bourdin was clearly a good few years older than Nicholas would have been. Of course Nicholas would have spoken with an Texas accent but Bourdin had a French one. Feeling too far in to turn back and with little too loose - Bourdin colours his hair, wears sun glasses to cover his eyes and spoke as little as possible. To his surprise Barkleys sister welcomed him with open arms, convinced he was indeed her missing brother and she is determined to bring him back "home". Bourdin had done it, he had convinced the authorities and the boys sister that he was indeed Nicholas Barkley that he had been kidnapped in Texas only to turn up three years later in Spain. Once in America the Barkley family greeted him at the airport, crying with happiness and relief that their boy had come home.
However not everyone is convinced and It doesn't take long for the FBI and a private detective to begin investigating Bourdin. What they find strange however is not why Bourdin has stolen the missing boys identity but why the Barkley family believe him. Could it simply have be that they want Nicholas back so desperately that they have managed to completly convince themselves? Or is there something much more sinister about the Barkley family and the disappearance of Nicholas than we first thought?
The documentary is made up of reenactments and interviews with Bourdin and the Barkley family who each give their side of the events that took place. Bourdin is a charismatic man, despite,the fact that he is a con man at times I found his side of the story belivable. Infact, I actually felt some sympathy for him at some points. However, there is something altogether unnerving, strange and creepy about him. At the beginning of the documentary the Barkley family come across as just a normal American family, but towards the end I felt there was something strange about them, something I just couldn't put my finger on.
I found this documentary utterly absorbing and gripping from beginning to end. It was full of twists and turns that I could never have predicted. I would highly recommend this documentary to anyone bored with the usual thrillers churned out by Hollywood. This documentary is chilling and it stayed with me for quiet a few days.
£9.99 (blu ray)
Running time : (approx) 99 minutes
DVD release date : January 2013
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Every now and again, you stumble across a documentary that makes you go 'Wow' and The Imposter is definitely one of those wow inducing documentaries.
Without imparting too much of the storyline upon you, it is the true story of a French man who managed to successfully pose as a missing 16 year old Texan boy, fooling the family and a whole host of governmental authorities at the same time.
this is such a well made documentary, so well edited that at times you do not know whether or not you are watching a re-enactment or the real thing. Bart Layton, the director, expertly collates interviews and events and presents them in an honest and riveting fashion that leaves you engaged and in suspense throughout.
All the characters are interviewed in a real and transparent fashion which adds to the feeling of sheer suspense which many studio's spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying and failing to recreate. The characters involved are compelling and their stories are gripping from start to finish.
What impressed me more than anything was how the individual stories were told and blended together, weaving actual footage of events with reenactments so seamlessly you forgot this was not a fictional film, but a documentary.
This has so much appeal on so many levels, but any fan of murder-mystery, true-life stories or unsolved mysteries will lap this up like a kitten with cream. The expert handling of serious family trauma and a hard to fathom story was duly recognised with a host of deserved awards going to The Imposter. Want something different? something other than a 'hollywood movie' to watch? then look no further than The Imposter.
Run Time 99 mins
Director - Bart Layton