Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Imposter (2012)

In 1994 thirteen year old Nicholas Barclay disappeared from San Antonio, Texas. Three years later, his mother received a call stating her son had been found alive in an orphanage in Spain.  How did he get there? Where had he been for the past three years?

The reality is that this is not Nicholas, but Frederic Bourdin, who has randomly chosen this identity because he believes it will allow him to remain in a youth shelter.  Frederic believes he can pass for  Nicholas based on the black and white missing person flyer.  But when a color photo is supplied, Frederic discovers that Nicholas has blond hair and blue eyes, which is a problem since he has  brown eyes and dark hair.  Frederic also speaks with a French accent and is seven years older than Nicholas.

With Nicholas's sister already flying to Spain to bring him home, how will Frederic convince her that he is actually her brother?  Is she so desperate to see her missing brother that she can be fooled by a stranger? If he manages to convince her, what about the rest of the family?  Is the need for resolution so great that they would  ignore logic? Or is there a more sinister reason that they might be so willing to accept an imposter into their family?

This is an amazing documentary told via interviews with Nicholas's family, old news clips, reenactments, and interviews with Frederic Bourdin, the imposter himself, who explains why and how he did this.

As you watch, you'll get angry at Bourdin, but also find yourself questioning whether the family knows what actually happened to Nicholas.  Ultimately no family should ever have to deal with the pain of someone impersonating their missing child.  Though Bourdin seems to have had a hard childhood, at the end of the film there is another twist and Bourdin's final words are heartless.  Highly recommended, but truly disturbing.

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