In 1994 a 13 year-old boy from San Antonio, Texas goes missing without a trace. The family begins to move on from the tragedy when, more than three years later they get a call that police have found the child alive and, more or less, well in, of all places, Spain.
The Imposter is a documentary that digs into the bizarre true story of young Nicholas and his family and the amazing series of events that surround this surreal story.
One of the most curious things about the film is in its ability to play on your perception and yet, keep you glued to the story. What do I mean by that? Without giving too much way, take, for example the most basic of things. Here we have a story about a child who vanishes only to inexplicably materialize years later in a far-off country. The title of the movie seems a bit too blunt and obvious—but is it or is this some sort of deception itself?
Time and again I was sure I had this story figured out only to realize I didn’t. It seemed clear from other viewers that they were experiencing the same challenge. The magic of the film is it’s disturbing foundation which is so completely unsettling that, like a car crash, you cannot help but strain to keep watching.
The producers manage to present every facet of the story in a way that assures you’re rapt attention but, ultimately, gives way to a very unsatisfactory ending. This has little itself to do with the realities of the story but in the approach the filmmakers chose as the final summation. The film builds and builds only to leave you with many key questions that shouldn’t be left unanswered.
The haunting elements of the story will linger with me for quite some time and you often can’t make up your mind who to hold in contempt, who to lash out at, who to question or why many choices were taken and others not. What I love about the efforts of the producers is in their ability to take such a serious subject and yet ride a razor-thin rail allowing them to convey just the right dash of emotions. These could have easily brought down the entire effort. There are moments of disgust and disbelief offset by incredulity and outright hilarity. That’s not an easy combination and that earned my respect—at least until the crescendo broke off into a cacophony of off-key notes.