The Imposter 2012 ★★★★

This is a film about French-Algerian Frédéric Bourdin: a mentally unstable but chillingly prolific identity fraudster. Focussing on the late 90s case of the disappearance of 13 year-old Texan, Nicholas Barclay - we learn to our increasing disbelief how Bourdin (then 23) was able to pose as the missing boy. Moreover, Bourdin was accepted as the recovered Nicholas by the Barclay family despite his drastically different appearance and foreign accent.

For a debut feature, Bart Layton's masterful direction juxtaposes real-life interviews with cinematic dramatisations to unnerving effect. From Bourdin being reunited with his 'family' to the FBI's investigation into his allegations of abduction, kidnap and sexual abuse, THE IMPOSTER builds viewer anticipation of what might happen next.

Cue an unexpected turn into all-out thriller territory as with a deft sleight of hand, Layton shifts the focus from Bourdin onto dark secrets within the Barclay family. Significantly, the viewer is compelled to re-evaluate both interview and dramatisation footage in light of these revelations whilst all the while Layton slyly manipulates us into the skewed viewpoint of unrealiable narrator Bourdin.

Emotionally charged, fact and fiction: THE IMPOSTER is a gripping and cinematic experience that transcends straight documentary genre classification.

The Count's Verdict: 2012 has been a good year for documentaries and THE IMPOSTER is up there with the best. Viewers may question whether they can engage with such an emphatically unsympathetic narrator but don't doubt the craft with which this highly subjective narrative is depicted on screen.

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