Imposter Syndrome is probably one of the most common forms of anxiety, comprised of heavy self-doubt and a feeling of guilt, inadequacy and isolation.
In his short movie aptly titled Imposter, Chris Esper tackles this subject with a lot of simplicity yet incredible efficiency.
The short film first follows white-collar worker Mike, Tom Mariano (Can’t Go Home, Central Intelligence), who is too afraid to speak up during a reunion.
Next to him is a little boy, Brendan Meehan (Daddy’s Home 2, American Hustle), disguised as a jester that only Mike can see and who acts as the representation of that anxiety.
In his mind, Mike is still only a boy fooling around rather than a serious and professional grown man.
At the end of his day, Mike takes a bus and locks eyes with a woman, Sheetal Kelkar, carrying a painting. Switching point of view, the movie then reveals that the woman, a painter, is also followed by younger version of herself, Jamie Braddy, naked behind a canvas she carries around.
She, too, feels self-conscious, and as the short film unfolds, each bus rider is revealed to have their own anxiety next to them, culminating with a veteran soldier, William DeCoff suffering from PTSD.
The fact that each character carries their anxiety yet cannot see that the others do too, adds to the faithful representation of the imposter syndrome that Chris Esper aims to achieve: the anxious person feels he/she is the only incompetent one in his/her group.
There is also almost no dialogue, but only a beautiful and tragic music by Steven Lanning-Cafaro. This choice not only represents the inability to speak up – because of anxiety and about anxiety – but also makes the film more evocative and personal.
Imposter is therefore a very good short film that manages to portray anxiety both accurately and touchingly, not by focusing on just one person but on each and every one and on the universality and humaneness of the syndrome in nine minutes that are worth a watch.