Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Friday, 24 August 2012 00:00

The Imposter' flaunts his con game
Written by Diane Carson
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

The ability to deceive, to take on different personas, takes center stage in many entertaining films. But British director Bart Layton’s documentary The Imposter takes deception to another level, and Layton lays it out in the opening minutes of the film, knowing that revealing this bizarre story does not in the least diminish its mesmerizing appeal.

The facts are few and straightforward. On June 13th, 1994, in a San Antonio, Texas, suburb, blond-haired, blue-eyed, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay did not return home. Three years later, the Barclay family received a call from authorities in Madrid, Spain, reporting that they had Nicholas in custody, an escapee from the abuse of a sex trafficking ring. This individual had brown hair and brown eyes, was 23 years old, and spoke with a heavy French accent. The Barclay family embraced him and verified that he was, indeed, Nicholas. In fact, he is Frédéric Bourdin, born 1974, a man who has impersonated others.

In a style reminiscent of Errol Morris’s, The Imposter presents its narrative through atmospherically lit reenactments by actors while the voices of the principals guide the action, including Nicholas’ mother, sister, and, most astonishingly Bourdin himself. The story involves the FBI, the US Embassy in Madrid, the media, a private investigator, and more.

Even though I had read David Grann’s 2008 New Yorker article about Bourdin, as The Imposter unfolded over its 95 minutes, I still found it difficult to believe the mind-boggling events and assertions. It didn’t take long at all for my attitude to shift to not wanting to believe the sad, even tragic story of the family’s insistence that this con man is their missing Nicholas. Do they want to believe so badly? Was there foul play? How could Bourdin sit on camera and so fully recount his actions and manipulations—what he calls his brainwashing.

Along with other recent films recounting incredible stories and probing disturbing human psychology (notably Searching for Sugar Man the former, Compliance the latter), I have to conclude that not only is fact much stranger than fiction, it’s also much more engrossing. The Imposter is provocative, haunting, and effectively presented. At a Landmark Theatre.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

KDHX Recommends


CaveofswordS presents the St. Louis Music Video Showcase

CaveofswordS presents the St. Louis Music Video Showcase CaveofswordS presents the St. Louis Music Video Showcase featuring 40 music videos from local bands. The evening will benefit KDHX, an organization that has done so much to support the local music community.


Brunch at the Stage: Cree Rider Acoustic Duo

KDHX is now curating a Saturday brunch series at the Stage with live music from local musicians and delicious, locally-sourced food and drinks from the Magnolia Café. Brunch at the Stage takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m....


Discovery Series Presents Roll, Jordan, Roll: The Legacy of Louis Jordan, Father...

Author and musician Stephen Koch* takes us on a journey chronicling music innovator Louis Jordan -- known for 50 top ten hits such as "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens," "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie," "Baby,...

Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at

Online Users

0 users and 13727 guests online
Sign in with Facebook


Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook