Film review: THE IMPOSTER, from Built For Speed

The sensational documentary The Imposter is a triumph for young director Bart Layton who has mostly worked on the TV show Banged Up Abroad.  The film describes the astonishing events surrounding the 1994 disappearance of 13 year old Texas boy Nicholas Barclay. The circumstances of this case are so bizarre that if this was a fiction film no one would believe it.

On June 13, 1994 Nicholas Barkley’s sister reported him as missing from his home in San Antonio, Texas. After three years of desperately holding out for some word of his whereabouts, the family astonishingly received a call from the FBI stating that a boy, claiming to be Nicholas, had been found at a children’s shelter in Spain.

What transpired is an almost unbelievable story of deception that recalls the film The Usual Suspects in its audacity and illustrates the vulnerability of people in desperate need.  What transpired was also a sad story of childhood neglect and delinquency. The film also tests our prejudices about people from the lower end if the socio-economic scale.

Surrounding the case are claims of kidnapping, child prostitution and murder but the confirmed events are the strangest of all.

The film has no narration and mixes talking head confessions with dramatic re-enactments of events. If there are any criticisms of this film they are that it overdoes the faux noir dramatics in these re-enactments and when describing the police investigation, briefly veers into Mike Moore territory with inappropriately satirical use of snippets from TV shows like Kojack. The amazing facts in this case, did not require any dramatic finessing.

These small qualms aside, this is a riveting documentary from start to finish and a film that will have people scurrying to the Internet to look up the case.


Nick’s rating: Four and a half stars.

Classification: M

Director(s): Bart Layton

Release date: 28th Feb 2013

Running time:  99 mins.


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