THE IMPOSTER — I read this story a year or two ago in the New York Times. The multi-festival award-winning documentary derived from that story, with archival footage, current interviews of the real people involved and effective dramatic re-enactments, was released just this month on DVD.
It’s about a 23 year old Frenchman who, in a phone call from a police station in Spain, convinces a grieving family in San Antonio, Texas, that he is their 13-year-old son who disappeared three years ago. Soon he is flown “home” for the long awaited, hope against hope reunion.
The film is also about investigation methods utilized (or not) by family members, the FBI and a canny, down home private detective named Charlie Parker whose independent take on the real identity of the claimant becomes as thrillingly arrived at as the outsider jazz music of his namesake. The detective’s revelatory theorizing even includes a HOMELAND spin on who the subject really might be.
The film starts out fascinatingly and gets better as it goes along, making a 90 degree turn into bigger and more disturbing lie. In effect, this is several movies in one.
There have been several fine films about imposters, including THE GREAT IMPOSTER (with Tony Curtis), Spielberg’s CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, and CATFISH, the documentary from a couple of years ago about an elaborate fake internet identify that lures a group of young college men across country for a surprise encounter with the family that concocted it.
This increasingly gripping documentary plays like the dark side of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.