In terms of narrative structure and direction, The Imposter consistently impresses as a documentary with plenty of enthralling, unnerving parts to it with many viewers who will probably confer that the "truth is stranger than fiction."
It must be said that British helmer Bart Layton does a lot with his craftspeople, especially the editing department, to provide exemplary entertainment around the disappearance of San Antonio teenager Nicholas Barclay (13 years old in 1994), Frederic Bourdin (of French/Algerian descent) and a private investigator, Charlie Parker.
When Barclay (blonde hair and blue eyes) went missing it hardly got any media exposure. Tourists in the southern Spanish village, Linares apparently found someone maintaining that is Nicholas some three and a half years later having mentioned of kidnap and torture; older sister Carey identifies the boy with similar distinguishing marks as her brother and returns him to his loving family in Texas. Yet, his eyes aren't blue, there's dark stubble and he speaks with a noticeable French accent. Why doesn't the family notice or remark about some of these changes? There just elated that he's back home where he should be.
It turns out that 23-year-old Bourdin was the "boy" identified by Spanish authorities, an identity robber of teenagers who can't believe he's gotten away with it. Layton works to stunningly shadowy and obfuscating effect as the dogged Parker delves into how Frederic couldn't really be Nicholas, could he (for example, "it's all in the ears"). Early talking heads include the Barclay family before Bourdin takes over with a certain unmerciful arrogance. The filmmaking also presents itself as persuasive with a genuine reconversion of Bourdin the enhances the aura of the title.
There was an explanation of how eyes developed a new hue, just part of a series of riveting accounts of those on the case, including the FBI, to substantiate how was convinced that Bourdin was the real Nicholas. Yet, Layton keeps a firm grasp on Nicholas through the finely communicative, forthright Parker, providing a key portal to the story.
Errol Morris, among others, would applaud what is going on here, especially the kind of ominous turns where Bourdin doesn't appear to have the upper hand, complemented by rich, moody score. Reminiscent of nonfiction like Tabloid and Capturing The Friedmans here's another case where you may not really know more about the true crime at the conclusion that you did at the beginning.