Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

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  • Summary: The Imposter is a chilling factual thriller that chronicles the story of a 13-year-old boy who disappears without a trace from San Antonio, Texas in 1994. Three and a half years later he is found alive, thousands of miles away in a village in southern Spain with a story of kidnapping and torture. His family is overjoyed to bring him home. But all is not quite as it seems. The boy bears many of the same distinguishing marks he always had, but why does he now have a strange accent? Why does he look so different? Any why doesn't the family seem to notice these glaring inconsistencies? It's only when an investigator starts asking questions that this strange tale takes an even stranger turn. The stranger than fiction mystery, which features many twists and turns, is told in a cinematic language that combines documentary and stylized visualizations. Perception is challenged at every turn, and just as the truth begins to dawn on you, another truth merges leaving you even more on edge. (Indomina Releasing) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Aug 24, 2012
    One of the best films of the year.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    Aug 16, 2012
    Beverly Dollarhide, Nicholas's mother, says of the period after her son's disappearance, "My main goal in life at that time was not to think." Apparently, the filmmakers have taken a cue from her. At least her unwillingness to think makes sense.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

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 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. Expand
  2. Feb 21, 2013
    I'm a fan of documentaries, movies and TV Shows of all genres. Usually, I choose which medium to view based on my mood. They are usually different types of entertainment. "The Imposter" totally throws off my criteria on how I decide. They say art imitates life and vice versa, but in this one it seems impossible to tell what is what. If someone were to come up with an idea to write this story they might be considered highly imaginative, but the twists and unbelievability of this documentary seem to unreal to be real. Yet, "The Imposter" is not based on a true story, but rather, it is a true story, word for word, and unfolding right before your eyes. I will give away nothing about this incredibly strange but captivating story. I'll just say that you'll think " way! How? This is crazy!" or be more or less articulate in your once in a life time documentary experience. I think it's good to read a few reviews, and check out the description to decide whether to watch something or not. But, I believe the best way to truly enjoy something good is to have no preconceived notions about it. This is one of those you should just dive into without dipping your toe into it. I think you might find that the water will give you a serious chill, but it's a lot more exhilarating. Expand
  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 to the events made my jaw hang, and the way they were executed were fantastic. Expand
  4. Mar 22, 2013
    The story alone is fascinating but the subtle twist it has is even more intriguing. The movie gives you indication but leaves enough questions open to decide by yourself. To give out more would spoil one of the best films I have recently seen. Expand
  5. 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 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.
  6. Apr 28, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A disturbing documentary in many ways and by the end you'll wonder how many imposters there really are. The details in this case seem so outlandish maybe the family but for him to fool the feds and the authorities in Spain are stunning. Expand
  7. Aug 2, 2012
    Film was well produced but didn't have enough content to justify its length. If you want a more nuanced read on this individual, I'd strongly suggest the New Yorker's article by David Grann ("The Chameleon"). It will take less time, leave you more informed and satisfied than this movie. Expand

See all 13 User Reviews