The story behind this documentary is already strange to begin with. In 1993, 13 year old Nicholas Barclay went missing from his San Antonio, Texas home. Jump forward to 1997. A 23 year old man in Spain named Frederic Bourdin, searching for a new start assumes the identity of Nicholas.
The story only gets weirder from there. It’s quite hard to believe it actually happened, but it did.
He manages to pass himself off as Nicholas to the family, and they lovingly take him back into their lives, unassuming of the imposter right before their eyes. This film provides a fairly even-handed look at Frederic. While disgusted by the fact he would do this to a grieving family, you also almost pity him. All he wanted was to get into a children’s home in Spain, to start fresh. But in order to keep up the act, he had to provide an identity, and through a series of over-the-phone impersonations found out about this Nicholas. You almost feel bad for how he continually digs his hole deeper while trying to get out of this mess.
It’s a true Oscar travesty that this did not garner a nomination this year. This film will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire runtime, with it’s seamless editing only adding to the intensity of the story that is already intense to begin with, and one that is far more compelling than most of the Narrative nominated films this year.
Eventually Frederic is found out, but without giving anything away, I will say this: In this film, the biggest crime is possibly not committed by Frederic, but by others. When the credits roll, you’ll be left breathless at what you have just witnessed.