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The Imposter

This documentary was originally reviewed after screening at Canada’s Hot Docs 2012.

Impossible, improbable, imposter – ★★★★★

The Imposter is one of those films that is best enjoyed the less you know about it going in. If you’ve managed to escape the story of 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay’s missing persons case, then do your best not to google things. In a story that you wouldn’t believe if it were fiction, “Barclay” who went missing from his home in Texas in 1994, shows up four years later in Spain. I’m not ruining anything by using those little inverted commas as the title of the film tells you everything may not be as it seems.

Through interviews with Barclay’s family and the key parties involved at the FBI and in Europe, we piece together a truly mind-boggling story. Add input from a private investigator straight out of Natural Born Killers and a shady family history of drug addiction and questionable motives and you get a feel for what we’re dealing with here.

The Imposter has an atmosphere much like some scenes in James Marsh’s stunning Man on Wire as the film is propelled along by re-staged scenes and commentary coming from an enigmatic French voice.

To put it bluntly, first time feature director Englishman Bart Layton has crafted one of the most compelling documentaries you will see this year. The less you know about this one, the better.

UK  /  Directed By: Bart Layton  /  95min  /  Documentary  /  Release: August 24th 2012 (Ireland/UK)