Wednesday, May 29, 2013


There are certain films that are difficult to "review" when you're fairly certain that most of your reading audience have yet to see it. I respect my reading audience, such that it is, so I'll gingerly describe the backbone of the excellent 2012 documentary "THE IMPOSTER" and leave it to you to take from here. The documentary is one of those "universal acclaim" films that percolate below the radar, and which you tell yourself you should probably see, and that you typically and predictably find a way to supersede with some awesome TV series-binging instead (12 hours of "House of Cards"!!). If that's not you, it's certainly me. I've got a Netflix queue of 220 to get to one of these days; thankfully "The Imposter" wriggled its way to the top.

The film was directed by British documentarian Nick Layton, and concerns the disappearance of a Texas teenager, Nicolas Barclay in 1994. Barclay subsequently "returned" to his family a few years later, with a heavy French/Spanish accent, and looking almost nothing like the boy who vanished 3 years earlier. His family took him in anyway, and when he'd barely talk, or gave strange inconsistencies about his time away, they ignored it and chalked it up to the trauma and supposed sexual abuse he suffered after being kidnapped to Spain. The returned Barclay, of course, was not now-17-year-old Barclay at all, but a twentysomething French con man named Frédéric Bourdin.

Bourdin is actually the on-camera star of this film, and the interviews with him interspersed throughout the film display a cocky, ebullient, deceptively charming slimeball in full confidence of his talents and cunning. The feeling you get throughout is that this guy, creep that he is, "did what he had to do". His story is silently reenacted in thrilling, convincing ways, and cut and interspersed with interviews of all relevant parties. It's Barclay's family that are truly interesting, and worth watching for every weird utterance and unusual logical flights of fancy regarding their disappeared/reappeared kin. The more I describe them, the less you'll get to experience the building dramatic tension of the film, so I'll refrain. "The Imposter" is not quite in Capturing The Friedmans/Grizzly Man territory for A+ documentaries, but it's a solid A- and without question worth ninety minutes of your time this evening. Stream it, baby!