The Imposter

Adam O'Brian. Image: Erik Wilson

“From as long as I can remember, I wanted to be someone else. Someone acceptable.” — Frédéric Bourdin

Director: Bart Layton
Year: 2012
Country: UK
Running time: 99 mins
Genres: Crime, Thriller

Producer: Dimitri Doganis
Photography: Erik Wilson, Lynda Hall
Editor: Andrew Hulme
Music: Anne Nikitin
DCP

With: Frédéric Bourdin, Carey Gibson, Charlie Parker, Nancy Fisher

Festivals: Sundance 2012

Legendary French-Algerian con artist Frédéric Bourdin relives the thrills and terrors of his own breathtaking audacity in a remarkable documentary that, just as persuasively, adopts the fitting guise of a thriller. Bourdin, now 35, has a bizarre inclination and uncanny ability to pass himself off as a child. The most widely reported of his many exploits occurred when he successfully passed himself off as 16-year-old Nicholas Barclay, who had gone missing from his home in San Antonio, Texas three years previously. When Barclay’s parents were advised by the FBI that tourists had found a traumatised teenage boy in southern Spain, claiming to be Nick, older sister Carey flew to Spain, eagerly embraced Bourdin as her missing brother and took him back to Texas. The believe-it-or-not story of how a swarthy adult Frenchman outmanoeuvred the doubters, maintained his impersonation of a formerly blond American teenager and eventually became the captive of his own invention has been related before, but never so directly from the acute observational perspective of the wily, sociopathic perpetrator. — BG

“A mesmerizing psychological thriller bulging with twists, turns, nasty insinuations and shocking revelations… The Imposter is all the more astonishing because it actually happened… Bart Layton masterfully blends traditional documentary with dramatic reconstructions in this striking true-crime account of the mind-blowing exploits of a serial identity thief… [His] form may be non-narrative but he has structured and scored the film like a classic mystery, disseminating ambiguity, paranoia and dread in a manner as teasing as it is chilling.” — David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

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