DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » The Imposter
The Imposter
Other // Unrated // March 10, 2012
Review by Jason Bailey | posted March 14, 2012 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

Reviewed at the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival

Nicholas Barclay was 13 years old when he disappeared from San Antonio, Texas in 1994. His family wept, and searched, and held out hope. Three years and four months later, they got a call. Their Nicholas had been found, alone and without identification, in Spain. When they brought him back, no one seemed to think it all that strange that his hair had changed color. Or that his eyes had too. Or that he had a bad case of five o'clock shadow. Or that he suddenly spoke with a French accent.

The man who came back to Texas wasn't their son at all, of course; his name was Frédéric Bourdin, and he was a 23-year-old French con artist. "I wanted to be someone else," he explains in Bart Latyon's gripping documentary The Imposter. "Someone who was acceptable... I was reborn. I was born again."

Layton's interest falls into three areas: how he did it, why he did it, and how he got away with it. To explain them, he utilizes thriller-style reconstructions and a stylized approach that (as most reviews thus far have noted) often recalls Errol Morris. But it's not just a surface similarity; Layton shares the filmmaker's fascination with pauses, with faces, and with garbled technology. He has an eye for big open spaces, and an ear for regional speech patterns. And he clearly has a gift for sussing out a story that seems too good to be true.

He talks to the key players--Bourdin, Barclay's family, various officials who probably should have been a bit more perceptive. The man who finally smelled a rat proves the picture's most memorable character: Charlie Parker, a shambling, suspendered private investigator who's handed an entrance most movie stars would give their eye-teeth for (behind the wheel of a Cadillac, accompanied by late-period Johnny Cash).

Layton's pacing is often slow and deliberate in the early scenes, and for good reason--he's walking us through exactly how these seemingly incredible events occurred, and making clear exactly what happened when. As Bourdin's ruse starts to unravel, Layton pulls the film taut; having earlier juxtaposed interviews for comic effect, he crosscuts between them to create suspense in later scenes, as participants recall putting the pieces together and realizing the impossible. The final quarter or so of the film tosses all of our expectations up in the air--where is this going? What else is going on? And how could it possibly resolve itself?

When the story breaks, Layton shows Sam Donaldson reporting it on television, and posing the most prudent objection: "It's hard to imagine how he could've gotten away with it." As Donaldson's words hang in the air, the camera holds wordlessly on the faces of those involved. It is hard to imagine. But The Imposter is not just an interesting story of a clever hustler. It digs into the psychology of not just creating a lie, but believing one--and choosing to continue to believe one, long past the point of good common sense. And that's when it gets really interesting.

Jason lives with his wife Rebekah and their daughter Lucy in New York. He holds an MA in Cultural Reporting and Criticism from NYU. He is film editor for Flavorwire and is a contributor to Salon, the Atlantic, and several other publications. His first book, Pulp Fiction: The Complete History of Quentin Tarantino's Masterpiece, was released last fall by Voyageur Press. He blogs at Fourth Row Center and is yet another critic with a Twitter feed.

Buy tickets to "The Imposter" now!

Popular Reviews
1. Birdman
2. Fury
3. V/H/S: Viral
4. Fury (2014)
5. Fury (2014)
6. John Wick (IMAX)
7. John Wick
8. John Wick
9. John Wick
10. The Book of Life (3D)


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVD Talk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use