Congratulations. You had me fooled. I'm not exactly sure when I realized that Frederic Boudin wasn't playing himself in most of the re-enactment sections of The Imposter, but it took me a little while. We have plenty of time to examine his face in the interview segments, but a low-hanging ball cap and hoodie did a lot to curb my questions. Was this intentional on the filmmaker's part? Of course! From an audience perspective, Boudin's willingness to participate in the interview segments makes it conceivable he would simply play himself. But more importantly, this subtle deception helps us empathize with the film's victims.
It's this type of dynamic storytelling that is reason I want to convince - not fool - people to see this film.
The premise of this documentary seems rather improbable. A Frenchman convinces a Texas family that he is the 13-year-old son who disapeared three years earlier. The stranger is not, however, just some lookalike who shows up on their doorstep one day. Fredric Boudin is flown from overseas to "rejoin" this family. It's a ticking time bomb for an emotional meltdown, ratcheted up with stark, beautiful images and blunt first-person confessions. But can we really trust a narrator who paints himself to be a desperate master of deception? These questions become key, especially during a major twist that had me gasp out loud.
It's a treat to discover a documentary this riveting. Director Bart Layton has a handle on pacing that would be the envy of most genre filmmakers. The Imposter is the latest example of how well this format can work outside of the typical activist and education ghetto the public too often lumps it in with. And for you, I'm sure a gig's a gig, but in the back of your mind you must have been thinking that no actor gets their "big break" in a documentary. But consider this:
There are many schools of thought as to what constitutes great acting. Some say it's an art of illusion, others say self-revelation. And you can now attach your name to a film that accomplishes both.