© The Imposter — Bart Layton/Indomina Films
2012, 95 minutes
The story begins in 1994, in Texas, when a 13-year-old boy named Nicholas Barclay was reported missing. Three and a half years later, his grieving family was shocked and overjoyed to hear that he had turned up thousands of kilometers away, in Spain. Though the family was quick to accept him back into their lives, some things did not add up. The boy was certainly older than what he should have been, his skin color a bit darker, and now talking with a foreign accent. Surely the effects of the trauma would change the boy…but changing eye color might be a bit more difficult to explain.
Why did the family accept him so easily? Who would not recognize their own kid? Revealing more would give the film away, as this is a story full of twists, deception and outright lies. Peeling back the layers of the intricate family drama, Bart Layton’s assured directorial choices reinforce viewer engagement in the story, forcing us to judge the imposter yet making us also more vulnerable to how persuasive he is: first, by featuring all the subjects in a normal interview style setting, with characters looking off-frame and shot with an in-depth background, expect of course for the imposter, looking straight into the camera, at eye-level, with a blurry background behind him. Shady much? Then, by shooting most of the reconstructions from the man’s point of view, allowing the viewer to fall for the conman’s tricks despite knowing that they are watching the work of a master manipulator. The imposter’s addiction to deceit is clearly apparent yet we cannot help but doubt when he tries to cover up his lies with other sensational stories…