Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Overlooked Film of the Week- "The Imposter" (2012)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #8

The Imposter

I don't know if I have mentioned this before yet on this blog, so if I have I apologize. But the best thing to witness as a film lover is a movie that punches you in the gut. Especially a movie that you knew absolutely nothing about before viewing the film.

Last Sunday, as my girlfriend and dog began to take a nap, I began to browse Netflix to see what was on my instant stream. I just accidentally stumbled upon "The Imposter," a documentary about the disappearance of a 13-year-old boy in Texas back in the 90's who was found in Spain a few years after the disappearance. I felt the brief synopsis alone intrigued me enough to check it out. I had not read any previous reviews of the film or any other information about the film before watching it. I still haven't. I have no clue what other critics wrote about this film, all I have is my reaction to it.

In general, I love documentaries. I think they are healthy in a film geek cinematic diet. In a medium dominated by fiction, it's bracing and contagious to see something true. Sure, documentaries can be biased, one-sided arguments sometimes, but at least they are true to the maker's heart. A great documentary at least feels fresh in the make-believe movie world. Even films based on true stories aren't all the way true, so its great to have an actual connection to the real world while we also enjoy these made up wonders of cinema.

As "The Imposter" begins to unfold, we see home video footage of Nicholas Barclay. A 13-year-old boy from Texas who mysteriously disappeared in 1994. Barclay's various family members reflect on Nicholas and his disappearance throughout the opening montage. Then we listen to a telephone conversation from a Spanish payphone. A voice calls 911 and says they have found a boy taking refuge in the payphone booth.

The voice calling Spanish police is a conman named Frederic Bourdin a Frenchmen who has been drifting through continents for what seems like forever. It seems like in the 90's Bourdin was a lonely individual, and you sense that in his reflections in this documentary. Bourdin is a major character in this documentary, and its fascinating to learn how he found out about  Barclay's disappearance, how he made his way back to Texas, and how he infiltrated Barclay's family. It feels even more heartbreaking as we listen to Barclay's family's point-of-view in contrast.

Yes its true, Frederic Bourdin became Nicholas Barclay and lived with Barclay's family for sometime. Now, you may think that I spoiled the entire documentary for you. I haven't, all the information above you learn quite early. As the documentary wears on though, and Bourdin continues to talk about his experience with the Barclay's. And a Texas detective discovers Bourdin's secret and tries to inform the Barclays...the tensions piles up.

Bourdin and the Texas detective also hint at something far more sinister. A big secret that literally felt like a sucker punch to the face, a huge anvil slammed right on my heart. I dare not reveal the big piece of information at the end of this movie, but it is truly something I did not see coming. I hope all would have the same experience if they choose to check this out. Trust me, this is a movie worth checking out. 

I'm going to keep this review relatively short, I everybody to be as blindsided as I was when I witnessed this documentary's big secret. It's one of the most satisfying ending to any film in quite a few years, and I haven't been able to shake it since I saw it. The only bad thing about this film is that I wish I could have been more ahead of the curve last year when this came out.

The Imposter is now available on Netflix

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