The Imposter

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Oh yes, I’m the great pretender…

There have been some fun documentaries this year and the streak continues with this. It’s the story of a 13-year-old boy who disappeared in 1994 from a one-horse town in Texas. At the time he would’ve been just over 16, it’s reported that he’s found in Spain. Now, there’s no “spoiler alert” needed, because the title of this documentary sort of spoils that.

A “boy” in Spain claims to be this kid. He called the police departments in various cities asking about lost boys, and when he found one that worked…he dyed his hair blonde, got similar tattoos, and thought he’d see what would happen.

If you’re wondering why a 13-year-old would have tattoos, well…wait until you meet the hicks in Texas that were family members of this boy. And wait until you see what happens when this imposter gets to their house pretending to be their long lost teen. Now, to tell you what happens would be a spoiler, so I’ll be careful.

This boy may have a similar nose, gap in his teeth, and tattoos…yet it’s strange that he has an accent. It’s also strange how a lot of the family acts towards him. The plot thickens when Hard Copy wants to do a story about him after the news is all over this – and an investigator starts carrying on about how his ears aren’t the same as the missing boy.

Bart Layton did this documentary, and he deserves credit for making you sit on the edge of your seat the entire time. I do take some credit away for clever editing and tricking us a bit unfairly at times. I’m at a point where documentaries that I enjoyed – Exit Through the Gift Shop, Catfish, Searching for Sugar Man – don’t give us all the facts to make for a more interesting narrative. I just don’t think that’s fair.

I often thought of the amazing documentary Man on Wire, and I found out later this was from the same producers. When you watch Man on Wire, you love the enthusiasm the protagonist has as he tells his story. He has this smile that rubs off as he tells his tale. In this, the French-Algerian con-man makes you want to slap the smile off his gap toothed grin. His name is Frederic Bourdin, and it’s the identity of Nicholas Barclay that he stole. You’ll be amazed at how many people fell for his scam when you start hearing all the details. I’ll give you one. He was 23, impersonating a 16-year-old, while sporting a 5 o’clock shadow and thick accent.

And just when you think all these rubes are so bizarre on screen that nobody would believe it if it weren’t a documentary…along comes PI Charlie Parker. He’s a real piece of work and fun to watch.

The movie might make you think about the Angelina Jolie film Changeling, which was based on a real story.

In a year when I’ve been complaining about studios doing more sequels, comic book films, and exorcist films…I’d like it if they take a break on documentaries that con the audience (even if it’s just a slight degree like it was here).

In a lot of these types of films, you see real life footage in the closing credits. When that happens hear, and we watch a bizarre dance, it makes you realize just how bizarre this character was.

I’m giving this 3 ½ stars out of 5.

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