"Truth Stranger Than Fiction"

Content: -2 Discretion advised for adults.

What You Need To Know:

THE IMPOSTER is a documentary with re-enacted scenes about a story that’s almost too absurd to be true. In 1994, Nicholas Barclay disappears from his Texas home without a trace. His body is never found. Three years later, the family receives a call that Nicholas has been found in Spain. The family promptly brings him home back to Texas, but something isn’t right. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy Nicholas is now a dark-haired, brown-eyed young man that looks a lot older than 16. However, the family accepts him because he says the people who kidnapped him dyed his hair and injected his eyes with chemicals. But, is he really Nicholas? If not, then who is he?

The IMPOSTER is a mind-boggling documentary that’s almost too crazy to be true. It’s highly entertaining and provokes some interesting discussion on how we perceive and search for truth. There are also a few positive references to God and a couple Christian images, but the movie otherwise lacks an overt Christian worldview. Finally, because of some strong foul language and dark subject matter about child trafficking, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for THE IMPOSTER.


(Pa, B, C, H, LLL, V, S, D, MM) A light mixed, or pagan, worldview with pagan elements, some moral elements (including a few positive references to God that were generally monotheistic), light Christian reference where family has a crucifix on their wall but the family is a bit dysfunctional, and some humanist elements; at least 24 obscenities (15 “f” words), one JC, and five light profanities; some details of torture are mentioned, broken hands and feet, and mentions of being raped and molested; no depicted or implied sex scenes but there are references to possibly being raped and molested; no nudity; no alcohol; light smoking; kidnapping and lying is a major theme, but it isn’t condoned, and a family is a bit dysfunctional.

More Detail:

THE IMPOSTER is a documentary with re-enacted scenes about a story that’s almost too absurd to be true. The movie has some strong foul language, however.

In 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay disappeared from San Antonio, Texas without a trace. His body was never found.

Three and a half years later, the family receives a call saying Nicholas has been found thousands of miles away in Spain. Completely overwhelmed by the news, Nicholas’s sister flies to Spain to bring him back, but something is wrong. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Nicholas that the family once knew now has dark hair and brown eyes. He’s incredibly quiet and reserved, and when he does speak it’s with an accent, but the family accepts him nonetheless and brings him home with them to Texas.

Nicholas’s return comes to the light of the FBI who starts an investigation on Nicholas’s abduction. In an interview with the FBI, Nicholas says he was kidnapped and smuggled to Europe where he was used as a sex slave. He says his hair was dyed and that his eyes were injected with chemicals so that his appearance would change. Always moving around, he claims he was tortured and raped numerous times.

The story horrifies the agent assigned to the case. The FBI reassures Nicholas that the kidnappers would be found.

All seems to be going well until a private investigator shows up and claims the boy isn’t Nicholas. The parents are offended and claim they would know their own son, but he’s fingerprinted anyway. The results of the fingerprinting shock the parents and reveal that the young man isn’t Nicholas, but is actually Frederic Bourdin, a 23-year-old French serial imposter.

If this isn’t Nicholas, how did the family not recognize this? And, what happened to the real Nicholas?

This is the story that THE IMPOSTER vividly retells. It’s a story of both deception and self-deception. Through interviews, viewers hear the perspectives of Frederic Bourdin, Nicholas’s mother, sister, and brother in-law, the FBI agent assigned to the case, and the private investigator who exposed Bourdin. Each interview contains varying versions of the truth.

Ultimately, that seems to be what the movie’s really about, the search for truth. Director Bart Layton says, “I hope the film ultimately speaks to thoughts and ideas which are bigger than this one particular story –it speaks to the lies we want to believe and the truths we construct for ourselves.”

How often do we ourselves “exchange the truth of God for the lie” (Rom 1:25) in our own lives? We can rest assured that the truth is ultimately in God’s hand. Though THE IMPOSTER is brilliantly made, the strong foul language and some dark subject matter (including references to being molested) make it unsuitable for family viewing. Adult viewing, however, is possible, with extreme caution.

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