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The Imposter.

Maybe it’s just me, because I’m not a professional writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I think documentaries are a bit harder to critique. With your standard fiction narrative there is always room for interpretation. They aren’t real stories, they are created from scratch and usually involve an end game, or have some essence of resolve. With documentaries, you are seeing a snapshot in time. As in life it can be aimless and drifting, and it’s simply the documentarians purpose to capture what is interesting, and edit it down to something that is captivating. That to me is it’s role. Documenting something doesn’t necessarily have to have a purpose, but to present a moment in time that is accurate, interesting and engaging. I saw this movie with a close friend of mine who has been doing various form of documentary work for the better part of ten years, and as we left the theater I had to ask if this was even considered a full on documentary. At times it felt like one, at other times it felt like your standard film, and at other times it felt like a segment from Unsolved Mysteries, waiting and waiting for Robert Stack to glide onto the screen in one of his trademark trenchcoats. Other than the story here, the film’s – sorry, documentary’s – style is one half of it’s strong suits. It’s slick, and it moves very quickly by interjecting stock footage, reenactments, and interviews with a true cast of characters to say the least. It also uses various styles of shooting add to the richness; sometimes video, sometimes digital, and what looks to me as a fair amount of 35mm. Most importantly it takes the story to various forms of emotions. At times it is creepy, at times it is scary, and at times it is very funny, an aspect I think which was very important, to capture the complete absurdity of the story. This is one of those documentaries or films where it is best to read absolutely nothing about it before going in. Seeing the trailer will undoubtedly have you intrigued, as it did me, and it’s all you need because besides the presentation being incredibly effective, the story is too surreal to wrap one’s head around. Like a mix of The Twilight Zone and the aforementioned Unsolved Mysteries, the story of a young boy having gone missing from his home in Texas then reappearing four years later in southern Spain sounds crazy enough to begin with, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. My only complaint about this is perhaps the rest of the iceberg could have been revealed a bit later. As bizarre as the story is, and engaging as it all is with all the questioning and second guessing you will surely engage in as it goes on, I was still feeling like I was waiting for a knock out punch that just made me think “Holy SHIT” as I was exiting the theatre. But then I remembered, again, this is a documentary, and doing as such could have been a disservice to the story, as it happened, and to the subjects of the film. I highly recommend seeing this. Usually I pretty much demand everything be seen in the theater, but this is one that could almost be better served watching in bed late at night, on a creepy stormy night. And yes, when I asked my friend if this was a documentary, the answer was yes. A very well made one, in fact.

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