Catch Him If They Can
Having arrived in America from Germany, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter had a way of getting what he wanted which usually relied on conning people in to believing that he was someone he wasn't. Over the years he pretended to be a ships captain, a doctor, a scientist and even a host of a TV show until he took the name Clark Rockefeller, convincing people he was part of the famous Rockefeller family. It was as Clark that he met and married Sandra Boss, a millionaire consultant and despite annoying her with his attitude to spending they start a family. It is Clark's frivolous ways and increasingly eccentric behaviour which leads to Sandra divorcing him and gaining full custody of their daughter. But when Clark abducts their daughter and Sandra calls in the police the truth about Clark's web of lies comes out as his real identity is uncovered, a real identity which might be connected to a double homicide.
I am not entirely sure what to make of "Who Is Clark Rockefeller?" as whilst an entertaining distraction there was something about it, or maybe several things, which kept on preventing it from being more than just okay at best. Maybe part of the trouble is that with it being a true story about a con man whose whole life was a lie it automatically makes you think of "Catch Me If You Can" and unsurprisingly this made for TV movie comes off second best.
The thing is that the story of who Clark Rockefeller was and the various aliases he took on becoming this faux socialite is quite interesting. Unfortunately "Who Is Clark Rockefeller?" doesn't really spend much time on each of these parts of his life and instead focuses more on the period from Sandra meeting him, his increasingly eccentric behaviour and the discovery by the police that he isn't a Rockefeller, something Sandra already knew having found out when she filed for divorce. This decision to tell the story this way takes away from the movie that sense of "how did he get away with this" and turns it in to more of a routine drama where the police and a desperate mother are trying to get an abducted child back.
The choice to tell the story in this way is not my only issue with "Who Is Clark Rockefeller?" and whilst I am a fan of Eric McCormack his characterisation of Clark as an eccentric socialite almost feels a bit caracaturish. Maybe that is how the real Clark was but it seems over the top and ends up over powering the movie, at times becoming a distraction. As such Sherry Stringfield ends up pushed in to the shadows as Sandra and it is a shame as Sandra's story, the simple fact she married a man on the lies he told her, could have been a lot more interesting and a bigger part of the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Who Is Clark Rockefeller?" is a piece of entertainment, a 95 minute distraction which whilst not terrible is not great either. And it is a shame as I am sure that story of Clark Rockefeller could have made for a much greater move than this.