The Imposter grips you with suspense from start to finish. The documentary is a psychological thriller, family drama, and true crime story all rolled into one.
Nicholas Barclay disappears without a trace in Texas. Three and a half years later, he is found alive somewhere in southern Spain. Nicholas now has a strange accent, brown eyes, and dark hair. Yet the Barclay family accepts him anyway.
This story is so strange that it feels like an elaborate fake, and some moments in the film do make you feel like you’re being conned. Like in any mystery crime thriller, you have that one person who serendipitously spots something wrong but nobody believes him. Nobody in the shelter questioned Frederick when he dyed his hair and got tattoos before the missing kid’s sister arrived to verify his identity. The grainy camera footage looks convincingly manufactured.
Yet Frederick Bourdin is real. The film draws upon the fallibility of human nature that will make the cynics justified. It’s more concerned with highlighting the strange and creepy aspects of the story rather than the missing boy, doesn’t have a clear message, and ends in ambiguity.
But Imposter delivers its purpose exceptionally well. It gives you that strange feeling of falling for what a tiny voice at the back of your head says is a lie, yet you go along with it anyway.
The Imposter is a captivating documentary that runs like a textbook mystery crime thriller that will make you uneasy and a bit cynical.