The Imposter Movie Review

  The Imposter


Starring: Adam O’Brian, Frederic Bourdin, Carey Gibson

Directed by Bart Layton


Rated: R

Run Time: 99 mins

Genre: Documentary


Opens August 17, 2012


By Lisa Minzey


This week we screened a fascinating documentary that was nominated for awards at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and 2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival and won Grand Jury Prize at the 202 Miami Film Festival. Director Bart Layton presents the story of the disappearance of Nicholas Barclay almost like a nighttime crime news story like one would see on an episode of Dateline or Unsolved Mysteries, which makes the film rather intriguing.

When 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay went missing June 13, 1994 on his way home from a basketball game, his family was beside themselves. No one ever thought that something like this would ever happen in theirSan Antonio,TXneighborhood, least of all Nicholas’s sister Carey Gibson.

Nicholas was a troubled teen on record with the local authorities. There were reports of fights with his family and of him running away for a few days but would always return. Through actual interviews of Nicholas’s mother, Beverly Dollarhide, Nicholas’s sister Carey and her husband Bryan Gibson, the family presents their side of the events that led up to Nicholas’s disappearance and the duration that passed, until receiving a phone call that changed their lives forever.

Three years after Nicholas’s disappearance, a phone call was received by the family that a 16 year- old – boy was claiming to be Nicholas. The call originated fromSpain. Carey caught the first flight she could to go retrieve her long lost brother but this is where the story gets a little strange.

The person “claiming” to be Nicholas was actually a 23 year-old-man of French & Algerian decent named Frédéric Bourdin. The differences between Nicholas and Frédéric were quite drastic. When Frederic was conjuring up his latest rouse, he was going off of a black & white facsimile sheet.  The physical differences were noticed after a color flyer was delivered to the children’s facility where Bourdin was being held/ confirm the identity of Barclay. Nicholas was Blonde Hair/ Blue Eyed, and Frédéric was Dark Haired/ Brown Eyes. The only real similar difference was they both had small gaps in their front teeth. He manages to conjure up a few physical differences listed on the bulletin of Nicholas’s disappearance, but would it be enough for him to pass for the real boy? When Bourdin met Carey, he was covered up by scarves, a heavy jacket, sun glasses and long clothing. Not only was Frédéric Bourdin able to fool Carey, he was able to fool the American Consulate and the Spanish Authorities, managing to secure an American Passport to fly “home” to live a new life as Nicholas Barclay.

When Bourdin was interviewed by authorities on his whereabouts of the past three years, a tall tale was spun of kidnapping, sexual abuse and torture, done with such sincerity, he managed to fool many  people for a long time.  Back in Europe, he was a wanted fugitive by Interpol for pulling the same con over and over again in several countries for the same situation.

A sociopath that is trying to pull off the impossible is bound to get caught some day. It’s only a matter of time until the right people start asking the right questions. The film keeps unraveling detail after detail of both sides of the story; distraught family and delusional impostor.  When the truth being stranger than fiction, leads the viewer down another path which makes you seriously wonder – who is actually is the guilty ones and who is being played?

Check out The Imposter when it opens in theaters August 17th.