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The Imposter (2012)

tomatometer

95

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 108
Fresh: 103 | Rotten: 5

Despite its true-crime trappings, The Imposter is an utterly gripping and sometimes heartbreaking documentary thriller cleverly told with narrative flair.

93

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 2

Despite its true-crime trappings, The Imposter is an utterly gripping and sometimes heartbreaking documentary thriller cleverly told with narrative flair.

audience

78

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 91,061

My Rating

Movie Info

Nicholas was 13 the day he disappeared (June 13, 1994). He would have been 16 and 8 months when he was reported found in Spain (October 7, 1997)... In 1994 a 13-year-old boy disappears without a trace from San Antonio, Texas. Three and a half years later he is found alive, thousands of miles away in a village in southern Spain with a story of kidnap and torture. His family is overjoyed to bring him home. But all is not quite as it seems. The boy bears many of the same distinguishing marks he

R,

Documentary, Special Interest

Jan 22, 2013

$0.9M

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All Critics (108) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (103) | Rotten (5)

In the annals of forged identity flicks, this is a towering Everest, dwarfing the deceivers in the likes of Catch Me If You Can and F for Fake.

October 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is edge-of-your-seat stuff and the difficulty is in the telling of the tale. To give any of this film away is a crime. You simply have to see it for yourself.

October 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The most fascinating aspect of the movie is why the missing boy's family believed the imposter's story.

September 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You may begin to wonder if you aren't being conned by the movie yourself.

August 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"The Imposter" is one of the best films of the year.

August 24, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You couldn't make this stuff up - and no one would buy it as fiction. But as a documentary, it's a different matter.

August 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Credit director Bart Layton for taking a subject that appears barely capable of propping up hour-long, true-crime cable programming and turning it into compelling, full-length documentary.

April 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

The Imposter at every stage reveals another layer of the bizarreness of which human beings are capable.

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

The Imposter has many lessons; for the rest of us, it reinforces the golden rule: never assume anything about anyone

February 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

The revelations never stop. The title tells us what the story is about, but it is impossible to imagine the complex elements that involve not only the central character, but those who accept him as the person he pretends to be

February 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

The film looks like many a television crime series, and is as manipulative. With no disclaimer or separation, its method screams that this is full honest fact.

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Few films in the past year have matched the narrative cunning of Bart Layton's captivating true-crime documentary...

January 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

With his first feature doc, Layton proves himself not only adept at seeking out such true-life tales, but also telling them with the flair of a naturally gifted storyteller.

January 7, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

This documentary film, like 'Catfish' a couple of years ago, is about a clever impersonator, but 'The Impostor' is an even stranger and more serious story, and by the time you get near the end of this bizarre tale, it gets even stranger than that.

December 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

A gripping thriller, heartbreaking family drama, and fascinating true-crime saga all in one package.

December 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Intriguing fictionalized true-crime psychological thriller doc.

December 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

... one of the most involving and compelling documentaries to come around in quite some time.

November 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

A mesmerizing con-artist comedy and a chilling true crime thriller...

November 7, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

You won't believe this true story

October 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Superbly crafted documentary about a missing teenager who mysteriously resurfaces after three years, prompting a riveting, better-than-fiction Cold Case-style drama.

October 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)

If only the movie didn't almost glamorise Bourdin's action, they'd have been onto a real masterpiece.

September 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

If you are a fan of true crime stories or the workings of the human mind, The Imposter will blow you away.

September 27, 2012 Full Review Source: The Aristocrat
The Aristocrat

... both interesting and repellent.

September 26, 2012 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review
Sacramento News & Review

An unnerving experience and a brilliant piece of documentary filmmaking that peels back the layers on one of the most perplexing stories

September 23, 2012 Full Review Source: The Popcorn Junkie
The Popcorn Junkie

Audience Reviews for The Imposter

"The Imposter" is one of the best, most memorable, and most unnerving documentaries I have ever seen; a masterclass of it's format. It's factual interviews meld incredibly well with terrifically shot recreations, and unforeseeable twists that make the doc play as a thriller, with the brooding menace of David Fincher's best work. Like all of the best documentaries, "The Imposter" will leave you in disbelief, and scouring ever little detail on the subject via wikipedia afterwards. You won't soon forget it.
October 16, 2013
YLOWBSTARDreturns

Super Reviewer

The tag line couldn't be more true, 'There are two sides to every lie'. The Imposter is the new Capturing the Friedmans so far as style and intrigue goes but I've not seen a film that really fits the profile of 'So unbelievable, it must be true' as much as this. The key to this documentary is the fact that both sides sound believable but one of them is definitely lying. It beggars belief but then that is what documentaries are for, although don't watch hoping to find out all the facts, you've got to make your own mind up but then again, that is the sign of a good documentary doing what it is supposed to do and doing it well.
September 11, 2013
SirPant

Super Reviewer

A true crime story with so many twists and turns you might think it was scripted. Well executed documentary that does its best to take an objective point of view, and leave the decision-making to the viewer.
February 20, 2013
Idrees Khan

Super Reviewer

An unsettling, almost unbelievable true story of a young boy who disappeared from San Antonio, Texas in 1994 only to resurface in 1997 in Spain and be returned home to his family. Only it's not him, but someone much older pretending to be him for reasons unknown. A documentary that challenges while never losing its hypnotizing grasp, director Bart Layton has crafted an exceptional film full of twists and turns, and real-life characters where you go from feeling pity, to anger, to ultimately just sadness and bewilderment. The central figure pretending to be someone he is not is a fully-developed person, someone who obviously has mental problems but is unaware of just how careless his actions are. The last third throws in yet another insane twist to this story that might have some screaming "faux-documentary", but in the end you come away shocked, but convinced, that a story this incredible occurred.
January 31, 2013
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

    1. Frédéric Bourdin: A new identity was a real passport, an American passport, I could go to the US, go to the school there, live with that family and just being someone and don't never again to to worry about being identified.
    – Submitted by Sylvester K (15 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • El impostor (ES)
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