Directed by Bart Layton
Approximately 95 Minutes, 2012
I just got back from an advanced screening of The Imposter. I had seen the previews over the last few weeks as well as the posters, plus I had heard a lot of positive feedback. So I was expecting a solid documentary. Several of the Rotten Tomatoes reviews referred to the film as chilling. I didn’t find it to be chilling. I found this documentary to be tragically sad but also brilliant in the way they effortlessly fused re-enactments with talking heads and open landscapes. Whereas as some documentaries can feel somewhat awkward when they use re-enactments or overdo the talking heads. What set this apart was that there was no narrator dictating the film every step of the way. This was told 100% from the perspectives of those involved and it is completely absorbing from the opening frames.
The reason why this a tragedy opposed to a thriller as some have described it is because every person in this film is a victim of some kind. While ‘there are two sides to every lie’ as the tagline to the film states. Both sides are trying to escape the reality of their life situation. This is part of what makes this film so profound. There is a deeper level to this story that neither side could see.
This is a solid and at times brilliant documentary. While I loved the story and everything that was going on. I would have liked the camera to hold the image of the speakers a little longer. The film was very fast paced but there were moments where they cut to the next interview or re-enactment too quickly to get the affect from the interviewee. A brilliant example of this would be Werner Herzog’s recent film Into The Abyss. In this film Herzog would hold the frame for as long as comfortably possible until we see a drastic emotional shift in the vulnerability of the speaker. This was often heartbreaking to see. Whereas Bart Layton seemed to be pulling his emotional punches in places. While this is not a huge criticism I felt that the weight of his story warranted more of an emotional gut punch. For the most part the expressions of these people felt very honest. This includes The Imposter himself. After watching the film i found myself wondering whether or not anything he said was true, even in his on camera delivery.
This film will be released in Australia on February 28 and will probably be a Cinema Nova exclusive to Melbourne. While some may prefer to see documentaries in the privacy of their home I believe that a film such as this needs to be seen on the big screen for the expression of these people and the tragedy of their story.