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A gripping thriller straight out of real life, THE IMPOSTER is an original film experience that walks the razor’s edge between true-crime documentary and stylish noir mystery. The twisting, turning tale begins with an unsettling disappearance – that of Nicholas Barclay, a 13 year-old Texas boy who vanishes without a trace. Three and a half years later, staggering news arrives: the boy has been found, thousands of miles from home in Spain, saying he survived a mind-boggling ordeal of kidnap and torture by shadowy captors. His family is ecstatic to have him back no matter how strange the circumstances – but things become far stranger once he returns to Texas....
For more about The Imposter and the The Imposter Blu-ray release, see the The Imposter Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 26, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Bart Layton
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The Imposter Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 26, 2013
Winner of Douglas Hickox Award and Best Documentary Award at the British Independent Film Awards, Bart Layton's "The Imposter" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Revolver Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include a making of featurette and Q&A session featuring producer Dimitri Dogains, director Bart Layton, and the private American investigator Charlie Parker. In English, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Bart Layton's film The Imposter chronicles a true story that is beyond bizarre. In fact, it is so ridiculous that I hope certain government workers lost their jobs after it was picked up by the media. It is incredible, really, that so many different people could not see the obvious.
In 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay disappeared from San Antonio, Texas. His family informed the police and they started looking for him. But they could not find him. For a while the family was convinced that sooner or later Nicholas would turn up, but eventually they lost hope. At this point all they wanted to know is what had happened to him.
Three and a half years after Nicholas had disappeared, someone called his family with the news they had been waiting for but concluded they would never get – their boy was found alive. But he wasn't in Texas. In fact, he wasn't even in the United States. Nicholas was in Linares, Spain. Barely able to contain her excitement, his older sister, Carey Gibson, immediately packed her bags and headed to Spain. She had never before been outside of the United States.
In the meantime, U.S. and Spanish officials began questioning Nicholas – or at least they were trying, because Nicholas did not want to talk. Eventually, he simply told them that he did not remember much, because while he was missing some very bad people had done some very bad things to him and he lost a lot of his memories.
But when Carey arrived in Spain and hugged and kissed Nicholas, he started remembering. She showed him the family pictures she had brought with her and told him what his life was before he disappeared, hoping that all of his memories would come back. And they certainly did – Nicholas suddenly started remembering everything.
After one final interview with U.S. and Spanish officials, Nicholas was issued a U.S. passport. Carey bought him a plane ticket and they headed back to San Antonio. It was a real miracle. Nicholas was finally coming home.
A lot has been written about Nicholas and his journey, so chances are you already know what took place after he returned to San Antonio, but if you don't, I suggest you see The Imposter without reading any more about the film or the case it covers. The film's greatest strength is the fact that it gradually reconstructs the case in a way that constantly forces you to reevaluate what its key players have to say about it. Like private investigator Charlie Parker, the only person that appears in front of the camera and asks the right questions, I am also skeptical about a lot of what they claim happened, but even if half of is true then…what an incredibly strange world we live in.
The Imposter is comprised of various interviews, short archival clips and original footage, but it never feels dry or monotonous. On the contrary, it moves quickly from one event to another and from one point of view to another, constantly filling gaps, highlighting small but important details. The result is a fascinating to behold film that will keep you on the edge of your seat right until its final credits roll.
The Imposter was produced by Simon Chinn, who also produced the Oscar winning documentary Man on Wire, as well as this year's Oscar nominated Searching for Sugar Man.
The Imposter Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Bart Layton's The Imposter arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Revolver Entertainment.
The presentation is very impressive. There are a lot of close-ups throughout the film and virtually all of them convey excellent depth. Clarity is also consistently good. The panoramic footage from Texas during the second half of the film also boasts terrific depth and fluidity (see screencaptures #5 and 17). Colors range from very warm to neutral to cold, depending on where and how the footage was shot. Overall, however, the film has a very consistent organic look, not a raw documentary look. As expected, the quality of the very short clips with the archival footage does not match the quality of the original content. Excluding some extremely light banding, there are no purely transfer specific anomalies to report in this review. Also, there are no stability issues. All in all, The Imposter looks terrific on Blu-ray, and I am convinced that those of you who have been looking forward to see it will be very pleased with the technical presentation. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
The Imposter Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. Also included is a descriptive audio track (LPCM 2.0). For the record, Revolver Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
There is a very obvious gap in quality between the two lossless tracks. The Imposter is complimented by a wonderful ambient soundtrack, courtesy of Anne Nikitin, and when the music becomes prominent the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track opens up the film better. Fluidity and depth, in particular, are far more convincing. Overall dynamic movement is also superior. The dialog, however, is equally crisp and clear on the two lossless tracks. For the record, there are no problematic pops, audio dropouts, or distortions to report in this review.
The Imposter Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Imposter Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Bart Layton's The Imposter is one of the most unusual documentary films I have ever seen. The true story it chronicles is beyond bizarre. If you don't know anything about it, don't research it, and don't read other reviews of the film. Just see it. It is riveting. British distributors Revolver Entertainment's presentation of The Imposter is excellent. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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