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Movie Review: 'The Imposter' -- 3.5 stars



The Imposter
3.5 stars
Documentary by Bart Layton

Truth is stranger than fiction. That might be a cliche, but it's the best way to describe the appeal of "The Imposter," a new documentary from Bart Layton. You simply can't make this stuff up.

The film is centered on serial deceiver Frederic Bourdin and the grieving family he fooled during one of his most audacious stunts.

In 1997, Bourdin transformed himself into a lost San Antonio, Texas, teenager named Nicholas Barclay - who had disappeared three years earlier - and convinced the teen's mother and sister that their Nicholas had been miraculously rescued from a harrowing kidnapping ordeal.

Despite looking nothing like their son/brother and speaking with a French accent, Bourdin lived with the Barclays for several months and garnered media attention while publicly posing as Nicholas.

Layton employs a "cinematic" approach in dissecting the perplexing case, rejecting a straightforward delineation of the facts to offer an emotional probe of the psychology behind the story. The filmmaker brings this hard-to-believe tale to life with an expressionistic sensibility that melds revealing on-screen testimony from the major players in the events with dreamlike re-enactments, haunting home video footage of Nicholas and Bourdin and vivid present-day HD imagery.

The story raises a lot of questions, of course, and the movie answers one of them as Bourdin illustrates, in great detail, how he pulled off the deception. But the greatest mystery of all - why Nicholas' family believed the imposter and welcomed him "home" - remains hauntingly unsolved.

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