Thursday, 20 August 2015

I've Just Seen: The Imposter (2012)

The Imposter (2012)

Director: Bart Layton

Some real life stories defy anything fiction could come up with. The events portrayed in the documentary The Imposter are almost too amazing to talk about; you really should just watch this film. It starts with a missing child, Nicholas Barclay from Texas, who appears to turn up in Spain, and understandably is welcomed back into the family. However, it wasn't Nicholas, but an adult Frenchman called Frederic Bourdin.

I watched the making-of feature for The Imposter, and in it the director and producers talk about how ideal a story this was for film; they also noted that if you made this up, everyone would decry it as unbelievable. Layton interviewed as many memebers of Nicholas' family as he could, as well as Bourdin (the titular imposter), who looks down the barrel of the camera, directly at the audience. He is very charming, a characteristic that helps you understand how he managed to pull-off this trick (for want of a better word). The local Texan private detective is another interesting character, who seems to have walked out of the set of Coen brothers' film.

Many people will wonder upon seeing this film how Nicholas' family could accept Bourdin as Nicholas. Like the best documentaries, The Imposter exposes the strangeness of human nature. There is an element of Kurosawa's Rashomon, as everyone has their own ideas about the events and how others perceived things.

Even if you don't watch documentaries often, watch this one. Not only is it a great story, but Layton has told it in a really cinematic way. There are reenactments of the described scenes which add the to narrative. The casting for this section is great, with the actor portraying Bourdin looking eerily like him; he also has to impersonate Bourdin impersonating Nicholas. Go, watch, now.

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