In this thought provoking documentary, a 13 year old boy by the name of Nicholas Barclay vanishes one evening in the suburbs of San Antonio Texas. After multiple years he miraculously resurfaces on the other side of the world in Spain. Within the first few minutes you are bewildered, which is soon replaced with shock once the man posing as this boy is interviewed.
In the beginning you actually feel sorry for Frédéric Bourdin, the man posing as a lost boy. You think about the struggles, abuse, and abandonment he went through to have this innocence of wanting to still be loved like a child. This empathy gradually dissolves through each decision and outlandish lie Bourdin creates, and a disturbed sociopath begins to surface.
Aside from interviews, the filmmaker also brings you into the story through reenactments of the accounts that took place narrated by the individual involved. Through careful editing this flows seamlessly, which was crucial because with one misstep this would feel like an unsolved mysteries episode on late night TV.
Family footage of Nicholas was also showcased at pivotal points of the picture to draw emotion from the audience. Another very fresh idea was during the interviews the audio would be cut out and historic audio recordings from the time being referenced would cut in. This technique was mainly used when interviewing Bourdin to convey how manipulative and scripted he can be.
By the end of the film you may still be wondering if Bourdin was really that believable, even with puberty years lost and farfetched stories the resemblance issue is quite a stretch. Could he just have been a curtain being used to disguise something much larger?