Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"The Imposter": Exhuming the Truth in a Real-Life Thriller 

Wednesday, Aug 1 2012
Comments

This deft, atmospheric Errol Morris-style tour through the phenomenon that is "serial imposter" Frédéric Bourdin homes in on one brief episode from the man's berserk career: the period in 1997 when the 23-year-old Frenchman convinced a Texas family he was their disappeared teenage son. This is already well-trod territory, hashed over in a 2008 New Yorker article, a 2010 fiction film starring Famke Janssen and Nick Stahl, tons of press coverage, and even Bourdin's own YouTube channel, but the story still harbors queasy mysteries at its center, as true-crime TV pro Bart Layton micro-analyzes every step of the case, via interviews with the Texans, Bourdin, and the FBI. How Bourdin manages to pull off this charade is the first conundrum, but the question of how credulous this wounded American family really is eventually becomes subsumed by others — as in, what really happened to the vanished boy? Why is the mother, Beverly Dollarhide, such a zombie? (The clan's troubles with addiction and the missing son's budding criminal career are factors Layton largely avoids.) And what's buried out back, literally and figuratively? Thick with reenactments and cute cutaways, the movie evolves into a cultural inquisition, following this stranger through the strange land of bad-news America, where the truth is still waiting to be exhumed.

About The Author

Michael Atkinson

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • Phish at the Bill Graham Auditorium
    Phish is in the midst of a block of sold out shows at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (October 27-29). The Monday night concert featured a rare first set opener of “Walfredo” with the band members switching instruments for the song. The evening’s highlights included John Fishman and his iconic vacuum cleaner solo and favorites such as Chalk Dust Torture, Slave to the Traffic Light, Axilla, Rift, 2001 Space Odyssey, and Maze. The show also featured Phish’s debut of a, seemingly impromptu, version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to with roaring approval of the, singing along, crowd. With Game 6 being tonight, partying Phish fans will join Giants fans in Civic Center Plaza where there will be a World Series viewing party on a large screen set up by the City. Photography by Jamie Soja.
  • The 4th Annual Masquerotica 2014 - NSFW
    The theme this year was Carnaval Mystique for the 4th Annual Masquerotica at The Factory. Attendees were entertained by strip dance, trapeze, and live music. Photographs by Calibree Photography.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed