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Riveting viewing

June 21, 2015

Watching The Imposter with Year 12 students as they anticipated their school ball on Friday night wasn’t such a challenge after all.

The documentary is riveting.

Continued interruptions to the film’s diegetic effect proved useful while examining

  • characterisation
  • selection of detail
  • setting and
  • film language.

Our role play of characters – costumes chosen for a hearing we staged in class – highlighted tensions between the family who took Frederic in as their own missing boy (despite marked differences  – brown eyes, bleached hair and French accent), and the confidence trickster who disarmingly worked his charm on us.

Schizophrenic, then? Two students undertook to play his part in the role play.

Later, we discussed these comments by the film’s director:

Positioning deliberately designed as part of the film’s impact. We were waylaid, manipulated.

Conman? We worked around questions left unanswered at the heart of the narrative. Wasn’t Frederic portrayed as an abandoned, vulnerable youngster? Qualities he shared with missing boy, Nicholas Barclay, we realised.

Sociopath or genius? Couldn’t make up our minds on that debate, either.

Compelling, charismatic and entirely convincing. Our shifting views mirrored the positions we adopted as viewers. Until the end, that is.

What about the soundtrack?

Notes are shared here as an overview (posted on Edmodo for ticket in the door):

Remorseless bravado from this evocative closing montage:

And the potential for a dream segue into our Semester Two reading of that ultimate confused teen classic, The Catcher in the Rye.

Photo credit from the promotional poster for The Imposter via Flickr.

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