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'The Imposter' Doesn't Give Any Easy Answers, and We Like It That Way

The Imposter
Indomina Releasing

If twists and surprise reveals are your thing, then you won't want to miss "The Imposter," a documentary that tells such a strange story that, of course, it must be true.

A hit at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival where it left audiences scratching their heads in bewilderment, "The Imposter" tracks one of the most bizarre of investigations — a 1997 case in which a French man living in Spain impersonated a missing adolescent from San Antonio, Texas by convincing the boy's family that he was the kid. If that's sounds too crazy to be real, you'd be wrong.

Directed with visual flair and an eerie sense of mood by Bart Layton, "The Imposter" sets out by introducing the imposter himself and detailing how he conned the family and the FBI into believing he was the missing boy, Nicholas Barclay. Layton does this by interviewing all the folks involved (yes, even including the imposter, who's identity is revealed late in the game) to get their take on how the events unfolded both in Spain and back home in Texas.

Given that much of the film is devoted to the imposter's telling of the story, it's never clear what is true and what is false. That isn't helped by the fact that Layton — much like filmmaker James Marsh does in "Man on Wire" and "Project Nim" — recreates much of the imposter's tale with actors. By giving so much of his film over to the fraud's side, "The Imposter" is the ultimate mind-bender.

Layton didn't make the documentary to give you answers (the biggest mystery of all — why Nicholas' family ever believed the man was actually their son — is left open-ended). He made it to tell a great story, and put you on the edge of your seat.

Our advice: See this one with a group. You won't be able to stop talking about "The Imposter" after seeing it, guaranteed.

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