Friday, 26 October 2012

The Imposter (2012)

"For as long as I remember, I wanted to be someone else.
Someone who was acceptable."

At a glance:
French fraudster Frédéric Bourdin
What a treat this is! I was tempted to sneak into the next hall where Midnight's Children (2012) was premierin with Salman Rushdie in attendance, or even The Paperboy (2012) because this was the only cinema in Canada playin it at the moment. Thank goodness I didn't. Eone Entertainment mailed me a free pair of ROE tickets and this Bart Layton docu-drama turned out to be one of the best movies I've seen this year. The less you know about The Imposter (2012) prior to walkin in, the better. But I'll tell you it starts off as a first person account of a French-Algerian man, Frédéric Bourdin, who successfully passed himself off to the whole world as the long-missin, blue-eyed, blonde-haired, 13-year-old son of an American family in San Antonio, Texas. We get juicy footage from everyone involved, most importantly by Bourdin himself, but the coolest character here is no doubt the man who finally caught up with the charade - Charlie Parker the sweaty, suspendered old-school country PI with a vintage Cadillac.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Tattoos of the imposter
Deeper discussion would risk compromisin your entertainment value but I can't think of how this could possibly be improved. Due to a clever narrative that was cut in such a way so as to achieve the excitement of a conventional thriller, the emotional pay-off is very high and even its slow start was purposeful. Perhaps the DVD extras could fit in one or two more featurettes to tell the drier aspects of the hoodwink. Maybe it could even be a double-disc release with that earlier movie about the same man - The Chameleon (2010). Or even a triple-disc release with Paranoiac (1963)!
Perennial wonderment:
"I didn't give a damn about anyone or anyone's feelings.
I cared only about myself."
In interviews I have read that Bourdin doesn't like the term con man. He says he never liked to steal and his desire was never for material wealth, but for emotional rewards. It seems quite likely that all he did want was to be loved and accepted, given his criminal profile. As for the family, based on the footage, I'm quite convinced that at least at several points in this bizarre false identity saga, all they had was best intentions. Mind over matter - aren't we all starved of a real connection and want ever so badly to believe somethin good rather than bad would happen to us? Or is the worse crime always exacted by the cold, calculated sociopaths who exploit this frailty? The psychology of a lie is herein examined on both sides - the liar and the believer.
I can't remember if I cried:

When Bourdin stares straight into the camera and says that he wanted to give himself "every chance", you almost want to give him a hug. Call him a pathological liar, an exhaustive actor and a despicable character but he manages to be very, very human.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
This Charlie Parker PI guy deserves his own spin-off!
It's a great piece of work about the human condition. My thoughts? I believe any one theory or motive doesn't need to negate another. Total Film's Matt Glasby has lauded it as "creepier than Catfish (2010) and as cinematic as Man On Wire (2008)... an unnerving story immaculately told and a strong contender for doc of the year". Variety's Peter Debruge has suggested that the compellin treatment even has a shot at theatrical play material. At any rate, consider this a very accomplished debut feature with an unforgettable story, boosted by the participation of the French fraudster himself, who has managed, in a strange twist of fate to arguably exonerate himself through a film that somewhat celebrates him. Check out the official website and Facebook page. For an interview with the chameleonic con man, check out the account of Mick Brown at The Telegraph.
Bonus material:
Thanks Eone Entertainment!