Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

The Imposter

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 1st September, 2012

Many of us when children like to imagine we are someone else, though few carry such fantasies into adulthood. It takes a very strange mind indeed to take on multiple personalities, serially, but that is what a young Frenchman of half-Arab parentage, Frédéric Bourdin, did before assuming the identity of an American teenager seven years his junior who had disappeared in Texas four years earlier. Those facts in themselves are enough to make the story-line of Bart Layton’s brilliant documentary film The Imposter sound implausible, but truth is stranger than fiction in this case as the missing boy’s family accepted that the imposter, who they bring back to the United States from Spain, is their lad, despite the fact that he looks nothing like him. Eventually this ruse is uncovered by curious investigators as the implications and questions raised in the case get curiouser and curiouser. The film has all the strong but well-paced drive of a thriller, but with the added bonus of an extraordinary emotional overlay; the actors playing the dramatised parts are quite exceptional. It’s one of those films that leaves you sitting in the darkened cinema long after the credits have finished rolling, one’s own mind disturbed in a provocative and creative fashion.


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