That least mined of all film genres — the docudrama — finds full-throated expression in the service of a true story that is, as the saying goes, stranger than fiction. Director Bart Layton puts to use the skills he polished while helming such television programs as "Locked Up Abroad." This time the subject is Frederic Bourdin, a 23-year-old European con artist who convinces Spanish authorities that he is Nicholas Barclay, a San Antonio boy who went missing over three years earlier — when Nicholas was 13. In service to the telling of one of the most convoluted stories you could imagine, is Bourdin’s candid straight-to-camera recalling of every twist in a list of unlikely decisions and events that delivered him into the arms of a "loving" family with nearly as many secrets as him.
Much of the joy of watching “The Imposter” derives from the way bits and pieces of information gradually gel into a tangible form. Interviews with Barclay’s family members, FBI officials, and a local private detective, piece together the kind of policier puzzle that most pro screenwriters would marvel at. Layton’s elegant sense of restraint and purposeful organization of a dense exposition provides a seamless storyline that gains suspense as it goes along. The less an audience knows going in, the more rewarded they will be by the time the closing credits roll. The film’s tagline, “There are two sides to every lie” couldn’t suit this material any better.
Rated R. 95 mins. (A-) (Four Stars - out of five/no halves)