Movie review: The Imposter

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From the October 18, 2012 edition

If a Hollywood screenwriter dreamed up “The Imposter,” he’s probably have a hard time selling the script. Too unbelievable, everyone would say.

So the fact that the events that unfold in this pot-boiling documentary actually happened makes it downright jaw-dropping.

It’s a real-life crime thriller with the sort of twists you find in those Friday night “Dateline NBC” stories — only there’s some taut filmmaking at work here.

This is a tale where the less you know the better, but I’ll lay a groundwork that doesn’t spoil anything.

In 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay disappeared from his Texas home without a trace. Three years later, he is reportedly found in Linares, Spain.

The boy is returned to the states — and his family — but something is clearly not what it seems.

This is a real story full of so many bizarre turns, but director Bart Layton still deserves a lot of credit for the deft telling of the tale.

He blends interviews with the involved parties with recreations of events — generally not something I love in a doc, but it works here.

You might not expect it from a documentary, but “The Imposter” will leave you gasping. You won’t believe what you’re seeing.