The Imposter | Chicago Reader

The Imposter

Rated R 95 minutes 2012

A fine New Yorker article by David Grann told the story of Frederic Bourdin, an emotionally arrested French-Algerian man who passed himself off as a teenager over and over again, bouncing around Europe and staying in youth homes well into his 20s. For this suspenseful documentary, TV veteran Bart Layton focuses on the most dramatic episode from Bourdin's criminal career, when he impersonated a missing teen from San Antonio, Texas, and managed to win entry to the U.S. in 1997. Layton trades mostly in talking-head interviews that provide voice-over for reenactments of the events being described, and no one could fault his skillful editing and storytelling as the imposter and his marks, a poor family living in the boondocks, converge. The movie's inherent sensationalism doesn't become fully apparent until the end, when the imposter is unmasked and turns the tables on his hosts; at that point you may begin to wonder if you aren't being conned by the movie yourself.

Film Credits

Director: Bart Layton

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The Imposter

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