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The Imposter (2012)

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A documentary centered on a young man in Spain who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.


3,054 ( 465)
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 11 wins & 29 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicholas Barclay ...
Himself - Missing Person (archive footage)
Carey Gibson ...
Herself - Nicholas' Sister
Bryan Gibson ...
Himself - Nicholas' Brother-in-Law
Beverly Dollarhide ...
Herself - Nicholas' Mother
Frédéric Bourdin ...
Himself - Imposter (as Frederic Bourdin)
Nancy Fisher ...
Herself - Special Agent, FBI (as Nancy B. Fisher)
Philip French ...
Himself - Consul General, U. S. Embassy in Spain (as Phillip French)
Codey Gibson ...
Himself - Nicholas' Nephew
Charlie Parker ...
Himself - Private Investigator
Bruce Perry ...
Himself - Texas Children's Hospital (as Bruce D. Perry)
Allie Hosteiler ...
Herself - Nicholas' Neighbor
Kevin Hendricks ...
Himself - Nicholas' Childhood Friend
Frédéric Bourdin
Carey Gibson
Cathy Dresbach ...
Nancy Fisher


A documentary centered on a young man in Spain who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There are two sides to every lie. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

24 August 2012 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Az Imposztor  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$22,379 (USA) (13 July 2012)


$892,409 (USA) (21 November 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


At the beginning of the film, Frédéric Bourdin's hair line is very defined and has dark hair. But by the end of the film he has a noticeable receding hairline. However, the film portrays his talking scenes as one long interview as his shirt never changes. See more »


Frédéric Bourdin - Imposter: Before I was born, I definitely had the wrong identity. I already didn't know - I was already prepared not to know who I really was. A new identity with a real passport, an American passport... I could go to the U.S., go to school there, live with that family, and just being someone and don't have never again to worry about being identified. I saw the opportunity.
See more »


Version of The Chameleon (2010) See more »


Listen to the Music
Written by Tom Johnston
Performed by The Doobie Brothers
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User Reviews

A stupefying, 'wtf?' movie, which puts fictional thrillers to shame
2 December 2012 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

Considered a dead-cert win at the Academy Awards next year, Bart Layton's documentary The Imposter has rapidly generated a great deal of notoriety and acclaim. The quintessential 'stranger than fiction' tale, it's sensational blend of archive footage, delicate reconstructions and heartrending talking head interviews illustrate that, not only is Layton a masterful, investigative reporter, but moreover a profoundly impressive storyteller.

Back in 1994, the blue-collar Barclay family from San Antonio, Texas, was left distraught after the disappearance of their 13-year-old son, Nicholas. Like any teenage boy, Nicholas was a cocksure kid, filled with energy, love for his family, and certainly wouldn't runaway from home for no good reason. Weeks turned into months, and eventually the case was abandoned by the police and press. Three years later, the local Texas police department receives an international call from Spain. On the receiving end is a character claiming to be Nicholas. Putting in a bogus story about how he escaped the clutches of a drug fuelled, pedophilic organization, the police think his story check out, and soon enough Nicholas' sister Carey jets over to Europe to meet her long lost brother. In front of police officials, she takes a good look and identifies him as the legitimate lost brother. Three years ago, Nicholas was a blue-eyed, spunky American teenager, now he's transformed into a dark haired, brown-eyed man with stubble and an irreplaceable French accent.

The Imposter, like it's central subject, is not the documentary you expect it to be. With many twists, contortions and moral judgements, your pretty much open-mouth and on the edge of your seat throughout the film's entirety. That's partly down to Layton's craft, particularly the Errol Morris-like interviewing technique – which sees people gaze directly into the lens of the camera and, vicariously, straight at us. But, even more astounding, is the capricious performer that names the film. Frédéric Bourdin, a then 23-year-old man of French-Algerian descent, is actively impersonating Nicholas the whole time, convincing not only the state officials, but the abandoned boy's own mother. With a shrouded history as a homeless orphan thrown into the life of deception and petty crime, he longed to fit in and have a family of his own. When that opportunity didn't surface, he decided to steal Nicholas's own.

"How could he get away with it?" I hear you cry. That's something I'll leave for you to answer when you see this documentary. Suffice to say, Bourdin is an intimidatingly convincing, intelligent and charismatic figure. To the point where we sit back and reflect whether we could have been swung by his quick wit. Even if Bourdin is the great pretender, a new revelation in the film's final act suggests that the Barclay family are perhaps keeping up appearances of their own.

It may not be my favourite documentary of the year (The Act of Killing, if you were wondering), but The Imposter is the best psychological thriller I've seen in recent memory. It transcends the documentary stratum. A dauntingly universal account of a missing child and false identity, it's stupefying moments will leave you silenced whilst the movie plays out. But, as soon as the credits roll, you'll be talking about this exceptional movie for years to come.

Read more reviews at: http://www.366movies.com

19 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
facts DeeS48
How is that level of incompetence even possible? asyakocaturk
Not so much about the movie, but about the actual events... trippingbomb
suggest similar docs to The Imposter here updownleftright
3 polygraphs? dmowen111
Ruin it for me. mrspotswood
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