(directed by Bart Layton, 2012)
**** (out of 5)
> If you, like me, are fascinated by the mystery of human behavior, then this exceptional documentary is definitely for you. THE IMPOSTER is a dizzying, maddening journey through the dark underworld of identity theft that will leave you stunned, horrified and stupefied by the depths people can sink to. It’s a perfect illustration of the maxim: “truth is stranger than fiction”!
. A child disappears, a family is devastated. Four years later, a phone call from Europe rocks their world forever. “We have your son”, said the Spanish authorities. But how could this be? Even taking into account the passage of the years, this person the Spanish police had in their custody looked nothing like the missing child. So how to explain the identical tattoos? (How do you explain the kind of parent that allows multiple tattoos on a 12 year old child?) How to explain this person’s dark complexion, when the child in question was light skinned and fair-haired? And then there’s the heavily accented English… Despite all these red flags, the “child”, (really a 23 year old man,) is “returned” home to the U.S., embraced by the grieving family and issued new legal ID! But the inconsistencies keep piling up. People associated with the case begin to harbor serious doubts- but not enough to act on them. The family however, appears to know the awful truth in their hearts, but are so deep in denial, so eager to have their boy back, they are willing to go along with the pretense. Or could their willingness to accept a stranger into their lives be intended to mask something a lot more sinister? Could it be that embracing this obvious impostor is actually a cover-up, intended to hide their role in the boy’s disappearance, or is this just another in a stunning stream of breathless lies, from the mouth of an amoral monster?
. And we get to know this monster! He is a main character in the narrative, looking guilelessly into the camera and lying shamelessly through his teeth again and again and again. In a rare moment of self-awareness, he admits having never given a second thought to the effects his lies have on other people. The imposter is the kind of person they used to call a “sociopath”. He smiles, laughs, brags, gleefully exults in his deception. After a while, the viewer just wants to climb into the screen and slap that smirk off his nasty face.
. This is extraordinary documentary filmmaking. If you like films and are interested in human behavior- SEE IT!
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