The Imposter


Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
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  1. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Aug 24, 2012
    One of the best films of the year.
  2. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    Aug 20, 2012
    The year's most fascinating and frightening doc so far, The Imposter delves far beneath the hysterical tabloid headlines.
  3. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    Aug 16, 2012
    Gripping, hair-raising documentary.
  4. Reviewed by: Matt Glasby
    Aug 5, 2012
    Creepier than "Catfish" and as cinematic as "Man On Wire," this is an unnerving story immaculately told and a strong contender for documentary of the year.
  5. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jul 11, 2012
    The documentary equivalent of a page-turner.
  6. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Jul 10, 2012
    A mesmerizing psychological thriller bulging with twists, turns, nasty insinuations and shocking revelations that might have leapt from the pages of a Patricia Highsmith novel, The Imposter is all the more astonishing because it actually happened.
  7. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Jul 13, 2012
    Despite a bunch of fourth-wall-breaking re-enactments, the look is consistent with most TV true-crime stories. But the way Layton parcels out information makes this story as strange and fascinating as anyone could desire.
  8. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Jul 11, 2012
    The Imposter strings the audience along, to get them to understand first-hand how easy it is to buy into a well-told story, even when there's no evidence to support it.
  9. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 16, 2012
    It's all a seedy, sordid mess, and it only gets worse -- and more and more intriguing. Layton engages in re-enactments of some parts of the story, a tactic that is either helpful or annoying, depending on your appetite for such things.
  10. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Aug 2, 2012
    This is a train wreck you think you see coming, but no matter how prepared you are the nature and extent of the damage will overwhelm you.
  11. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Jul 12, 2012
    One of the most entertaining documentaries to appear since "Exit Through the Gift Shop," a film similarly obsessed with role playing and deception.
  12. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jul 10, 2012
    Blessed with an improbable-but-true story that functions on many ironic levels, this clever documentary ultimately conveys more about the complex American character - shifting between intimacy and criminality - than a whole shelf of fiction films.
  13. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Jul 10, 2012
    The Imposter makes slick work of its wily subject, using atmospheric reenactments and stark, soul-baring interviews to explore a mind-boggling case of false identity.
  14. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Aug 15, 2012
    The crime is beyond bizarre, and the film is relentlessly suspenseful, but perhaps the most disturbing question of all is this: Whatever happened to Nicholas Barclay? To that, there remains no satisfactory answer.
  15. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Oct 12, 2012
    The utterly bizarre story made national news when it broke, has since provided much magazine fodder, and popped up only two years ago adapted into a dramatic feature. Now it receives the documentary treatment and, in the devilishly manipulative hands of director Bart Layton, what a treatment it is – the weirdness just gets weirder.
  16. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Sep 13, 2012
    The most fascinating aspect of The Imposter, though, is why the missing boy's family believed his story.
  17. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Aug 23, 2012
    Director Bart Layton's film takes us to such strange and emotionally-charged places that we cannot believe that what we're seeing is real, even though it demonstrably is.
  18. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Aug 9, 2012
    What's most fascinating are the movie's larger questions about why some people tell impossible lies -- and why others believe them.
  19. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Aug 5, 2012
    The Imposter has too many reenactments for my taste, and Bourdin is glorified by Layton more often than he is condemned. Still, this is one creepy mystery.
  20. Reviewed by: Todd Gilchrist
    Jul 25, 2012
    The Imposter is a great commentary on the subjectivity of any event, and one that probes deeply into the motivations of its subjects.
  21. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jul 13, 2012
    A movie that offers hard speculation and harder truths. You won't be able to get it out of your head.
  22. Reviewed by: Michael Atkinson
    Jul 10, 2012
    Thick with reenactments and cute cutaways, the movie evolves into a cultural inquisition, following this stranger through the strange land of bad-news America, where the truth is still waiting to be exhumed.
  23. Reviewed by: Drew Grant
    Jul 17, 2012
    As a thriller, The Imposter is gripping. As a documentary, it provokes confusion and annoyance.
  24. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Jul 8, 2012
    The film shrewdly opts not to proffer its own hypothesis about the true reasons behind the Gibson family buying Frédéric Bourdin's story.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 40 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 13
  2. Negative: 0 out of 13
  1. Aug 6, 2012
    In the first few minutes of this doc, the filmmakers share a crucial fact that, in a fiction film would be so outlandish, it would not beIn the first few minutes of this doc, the filmmakers share a crucial fact that, in a fiction film would be so outlandish, it would not be believed.. That this fact is revealed in the first 10 minutes of this movie made me think that the filmmakers had shown their cards too early, but they have a lot more in store. Absolutely riveting, the events depicted are deeply unsettling, and deeply sad. This doc is one of the best of the year. If you enjoy true crime docs, docs dealing with deceit and denial, and docs that examine human foibles and delusions, then, by all means, see this one. Do yourself a favor, though: don't read about any of the details. Let the film surprise you. You will not be disappointed. Full Review »
  2. Aug 25, 2014
    This was a stunning documentary movie about the 1997 incident. Tells the story of a Texas boy who returned home after the 3 years ofThis was a stunning documentary movie about the 1997 incident. Tells the story of a Texas boy who returned home after the 3 years of disappearance. Created a lot thrilling excitation that equals to any masterpiece crime-thriller movie. Particularly to say it is what Hitchcock would have chosen to do if he was alive today. Sadly, it was a documentary movie, that does not really stop anyone from a watch. It is one the documentary you should watch if you are a Hitchcock fan, especially if you are interested in the crime-thrillers that deals about identity crises. As it is a true story, it was unbelievable.

    A 16 year-old Nicolas Barclay from Texas was missing for 3 years. All the sudden one day he appears with the changed personality. That brings joy in his family who was praying for his return. But Nicolas tells the strange story about his disappearance that convince his family, but authorities suspect that something is not right. What is true and what is not is the remaining narration that reveals as it happened.

    ‘‘I saw the opportunity.’’

    This movie is what reminds me the Indian movie 'Naan'. Same kind of narration that does not keep the secret from the viewers, but each other from the movie characters. It was about claiming the fake identity, that was not done perfectly because of the faultless display, but failed to recognize the truth, especially in the modern world with all the facilities are available to detect such flaws. Like saying, all is well when everybody is happy. There are lots of similar incidents happening, but everything won't come into the lights. I am glad this story brought into the silver screen.

    It was awesome, I thoroughly stuck with it till the end. Yes, the end leaves behind many doubts about the whole structure of the case that could possibly take us to the day since Nicolas was missing. But in another angle it is a kind of offense to believe where the story leaves everything and finger points the other way. Whatever the truth is, it leaves us on a thin border of the two possibilities and we have to take what way we think could possibly would have happened. In the meantime the mystery about Nicolas keeps unanswered. I hope this puzzle will be solved one day in the near future.
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 31, 2013
    A stand out documentary, eerie and put me on edge, which is rare with me. Having not heard of the story before seeing the film, the twists toA stand out documentary, eerie and put me on edge, which is rare with me. Having not heard of the story before seeing the film, the twists to the events made my jaw hang, and the way they were executed were fantastic. Full Review »