THE IMPOSTER (Bart Layton). 95 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (October 12). See times. Rating: NNNNN
True stories don't get any more convoluted - or gripping - than the events that followed the disappearance of Texas teenager Nicholas Barclay, who vanished one night in 1993. Three years and four months later, his family was stunned to learn he'd resurfaced in Spain. Sure, he was speaking with a French accent, but no one seemed terribly bothered about that.
That's just the beginning of Bart Layton's bizarre, utterly fascinating story of faith, hope and deception. It takes the shifting perspectives and allegiances of Capturing The Friedmans and adds elements of stylization, mixing re-enactments with glimpses of archival video to keep us as unsteady as Barclay's family must have felt. It's a hell of a gamble, but it pays off brilliantly.
I'd never dare spoil the various twists and turns of the story, though obviously the title is a hint that you shouldn't expect to take anything at face value. But The Imposter's structure is rooted in the sad truth that people in pain will believe almost anything if it leads them to the answer they desire, even if that means compounding one nightmare with another, as it did for the Barclays.
In Layton's compelling, seductive presentation, we can see exactly how it all happened.