Some stories are so insane, so hard to believe that they simply could not have been made up. “The Imposter” tells one of those stories.


A 2012 documentary, “The Imposter” tells the story of Nicholas Barclay. At the age of 13, Barclay disappeared without a trace, only to reappear in Spain several years later. The family goes to retrieve their lost son, and they bring him back to Texas. It is only after several months that the family starts to suspect that this person living in their home may not actually be Nicholas. As the plot thickens, dirty secrets thought locked away begin to rise to the surface, and we find out exactly who this boy is.


“The Imposter” is a gripping film of expert cinematic construction. Director Bart Layton knows how to put together a documentary that is every bit as entertaining as a fiction film. This is a massively impressive first feature, with Layton proving he is a master story teller.


The story itself is a thriller and Hitchcockian in nature. You never know who you can trust and the tension continues to build until reaching a tipping point at a climax that is simply sublime.


Much of the success of the film is due to the access Layton had in terms of interviews. The entire Barclay family is put on camera, and even the titular imposter himself is given quite a bit of screen time. Their insights are enlightening and make for a narrative that is troubling to say the least.


Layton does, every so often, let his style get in the way of the substance. The camera work, editing and dramatizations are all very showy, and while it makes for entertaining cinema, it gets in the way of what Layton is saying and the story he is trying to tell.


Still, this is one of the most engrossing and interesting documentaries in recent memory.-3.5/4


“The Imposter” is available on Netflix instant streaming.


Have you seen “The Imposter”? Are you interested? Let me know in the comments below.