Combustible Celluloid
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With: Frédéric Bourdin, Carey Gibson, Beverly Dollarhide, Bryan Gibson, Codey Gibson, Nancy Fisher, Charlie Parker, Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D, Philip French, Adam O'Brian, Anna Ruben, Cathy Dresbach, Alan Teichman, Ivan Villanueva, Maria Jesus Hoyos, Anton Marti, Amparo Fontanet, Ken Appledorn
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Bart Layton
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 99
Date: 01/23/2012

The Imposter (2012)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Inexact Duplicate

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bart Layton's documentary The Imposter is the movie Compliance should have been: it's an unbelievable true story that underlines the shocking human capacity to believe in just about anything if the conditions are right. In 1994, a San Antonio boy, Nicholas Barclay, disappeared. A few years later, in Spain, a young man appeared claiming to be Nicholas. His sister traveled there and, despite the fact that the man looked nothing at all like her brother (including brown eyes, as opposed to Nicholas's blue eyes), she identified him as such.

The con man, Frederic Bourdin, earned a passport and a ticket to America, where he fooled the rest of the family as well with stories of rape and abuse; no one wanted to ask too many questions. Eventually more crazy stories come up, including a possible murder, and the idea that the victims have actually been conning the con man.

Director Layton scores interviews with everyone involved, and it's astounding to watch the hurt and confusion on the faces of the family members, as well as the apparent pride of Bourdin, who doesn't seem to quite understand the depth of what he has done. Layton also includes dramatic re-creations as well as incorporating old footage to make the story even more gripping. Overall, however, this material is highly disturbing and heartbreaking; no amount of suspense will take away the fact that this tragic thing happened to real people, and could, indeed, happen to any of us.

Vivendi Entertainment has released a 2013 DVD (no Blu-ray), complete with a 40-minute behind-the-scenes documentary, a trailer, and a code for "unlocking actual government case files."

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