Documentary Review: The Imposter [2012]

This is my first time reviewing documentary. The last documentary I saw was An Inconvenient Truth but for academic purposes and not because of curiosity. I think I shall do this more often since The Imposter was outstanding.

Director Bart Layton gives a look at one specific case of Frédéric Bourdin who pretended to be a 16-year-old Texas missing teenager Nicolas Barclay - disappeared at the age of 13 from San Antonio, Texas on June 13, 1994. Three years later, Spanish police gets a call of tourists informing about a sixteen-year-old boy who refuses to get into contact with other people. They assumed that he was an American despite the lack of any identity. Police brought the guy in department for more information, but he did not seem to be very talkative. He was transferred to orphanage, where Frederic told everyone that he was kidnapped from the United States and hold as a hostage in Spain more than three years. Bourdin somehow (and you shall see movie to understand that) convinced everyone that, at the actual age of 23, he was a 16-year-old american boy.

There is something really mystic - Nicolas was blond, blue-eyed boy and Frederic, on the contrary, was dark-eyed, black hair, French accented fellow, but every single person, including his "family" was sure that he was who he pretended to be. Barclay family took him in Texas and they restarted their lives. But FBI detective was the only one, who truly believed that there was something wrong with Nicolas. She could not understand how a little boy was taken from States to Europe, imperceptibly from FBI or other agencies. The only answer to this question was that Nicolas Barclay was not Nicolas Barclay in fact.

You may ask, what I already asked to myself, how could he foolish whole family? Is it real that a mother can not recognize her child? Or maybe they know that a person, who they brought from Spain was not their child at all? - Searching for answers leads to another truth, that explodes to the end of the movie.

Besides a very interesting story, that is told in The Imposter, Layton brings whole mystery in very interesting way - all events are told from perspective of Frederic, his "family", FBI agents and every person involved in case. At the end, you get  enough information to discuss what really happened to Nicolas Barclay. I believe this truth goes beyond the crime of one French imposter Frederic Bourdin.



  1. Oh, thanks Shala. I'd love to check this movie out asap. you should see the documentary, it's brilliant :)

  2. If you haven't already, I think it would be interesting for you to now see the recent feature film that was made about this story to compare with the doc - "The Chameleon" (2010). I saw that but haven't seen the doc yet. I agree this is such an interesting story.