The Imposter is an expertly written, tight story, with some amazing editing. This week’s Netflix Pick is a documentary about a con man who specialized in stealing identities to escape his own troubled life. The story is so astonishing it’s hard to believe it’s true.
Tired of hearing your friends say they’ve watched everything on Netflix? Are you finding yourself saying that as well? Maybe the argument of people too cheap to shell out the 8 dollars are saying ‘there used to be good stuff, but it’s all crap now.’ Maybe you find yourself spending more time scrolling than watching. Well I plan to put those idiotic statements and bad behavior to rest. On a week to week basis I will give a solid recommendation or two on what you can sign on, turn on, and enjoy. I’ll try to stay away from the massive titles that everyone knows since those have been covered to exhaustion everywhere else. I’m looking for the hidden gems. The indies, the big name stars in direct to streaming endeavors that are well crafted and creative but wouldn’t gross the 300 million needed to justify a theatrical wide release.
Director Bart Layton doesn’t bury the lead in his documentary. It’s clear from the start that Frederic Bourdin is not Nicholas Barclay. Nicholas went missing from San Antonio Texas in 1994 at the age of 13. The crafty way Bourdin goes about finding an identity to steal in the first place is a story in itself. Faking his age to get put into a home for kids in Spain Bourdin starts the con right away in the narrative. While in the Home he insists he was an American that was abducted and traumatized by his experiences. He never gives concrete details and instead lets the people around him fill in the blanks. He contacts every major metropolitan missing persons department in the States until he finds the tragic story of the Barclay/Gibson/Dollarhide family. The trauma the family is put through for the remainder of the film comes down to circumstance and further bad luck. The family wants so badly to believe that Nicholas is back they ignore some pretty glaring facts and help Bourdin con them by defending him against all odds.
There is a small cast of actors who fill in some story gaps in The Imposter but these transitions are made seamlessly and don’t take away from the gravity of the story. The family is captivating in their tragedy and even Bourdin himself is engaging to the point where you almost feel sorry for him before you remember he’s the kind of monster that really prays on the tragedy in others.
The camera confessionals, testimonials, and archival footage make the story truly chilling. There are several moments during the movie where you have to suspend your disbelief so much that you forget this is a well documented true story. The Imposter is a must see in it’s brilliance and tragedy. The balance of filmmaking and the astonishing story make this one of the most gripping Documentaries I have ever seen.