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The Imposter - Film Review

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published February 22nd 2013
Truth is stranger than fiction
It wasn't that long ago that the idea of going to the cinema to see a documentary was unheard of. These days though, there are plenty of documentarians who are just as keen to entertain as well as educate their audience, and the popularity of the art form has increased accordingly.

The Imposter is a case in point, it blurs the line between doco and fiction, a la Touching the Void, with slickly produced re-enactments melded with the customary talking heads. Interestingly, the re-enactments (sometimes) feature the original protagonist in a story that fits well and truly in the truth is stranger than fiction category.

The scenario starts like this - a 13 year old boy goes missing in Texas. Three years later someone claiming to be him is found in France.

For me this was a case of high expectations ruining a perfectly decent film. So much international hype preceded The Imposter, when in reality it isn't anywhere near as twisty or surprising as you think its going to be. The title alone lets you know from the beginning that there really isn't any doubt that the subject is not the lost boy he claims to be.

What is fascinating though, is watching everyone around him believe that he is, despite looking and sounding nothing like the real thing. You can understand possibly the lost boy's family fooling themselves out of desperation that their son is right there in front of them, but how did everyone else fall for it?

Or did they? There may be no ambiguity for the audience about who the imposter is, but just how much his friends and family know and what their motivations are is something we can only speculate on.

There are some slight curve balls along the way, but at film's end, you're kinda wishing there was just one more twist in the tale.

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Why? A doco that entertains as much as it educates
Where: At selected cinemas
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