THE STORY - Identical triplets become separated at birth and adopted by three different families. Years later, their amazing reunion becomes a global sensation but also unearths an unimaginable secret that has radical repercussions.
THE CAST - Silvi Alzetta-Reali, Eddy Galland & Ron Guttman
THE TEAM - Tim Wardle (Director)
THE RUNNING TIME - 96 Minutes
THE GOOD - A supremely interesting story makes for compelling viewing, asking intriguing questions along the way.
THE BAD - Though the story is inherently fascinating, the film lays the story out in a largely traditional fashion.
THE OSCARS - Best Documentary Feature
THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10
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By Daniel Howat
It’s been said so often that it’s nearly annoying: truth is stranger than fiction. Stories like “Three Identical Strangers” are the reason that saying exists. It’s a story that’s so fascinating and nearly unbelievable that it can be tough to write about for fear of spoiling anything. This documentary manages to reveal surprise after surprise throughout the film, keeping the audience reeled in while posing important questions about how we become the people we are.
“Three Identical Strangers” begins with an unbelievable chance encounter. A 19-year-old walks onto his college campus for the first time, but everyone seems to know him. His identical twin went there the year before. After this wild tale went public, it got even crazier: there’s a third brother. These men were separated at birth and stumbled upon each other by sheer luck.
We spend a good deal of time simply following their years of milking this story what all it was worth. Brief, strange fame came with their newfound family. The men were one of those odd human interest stories, a sideshow who gained minor fame for simply being who they were. They were on every talk show and news program, local and national. They owned a restaurant called “Triplets” that I assume wasn’t popular because of their steaks.
Naturally, this popularity waned quickly as the initial “oh wow” of their story faded. The film struggles with this same fading interest, that is until the brothers start asking questions. Once the news stories and parties start to slow down, the men have to deal with the reality of their past. This review will leave their questions unexplored here, as multiple reveals in the film will be best left unspoiled.
“Three Identical Strangers” avoids remaining a mere quirky human interest story. Instead, it explores deeper questions about how these men’s identities were developed. It’s an age-old debate: nature versus nurture. These questions aren’t simply contrived for the film. The brothers had to deal with them as their past and present collided in unavoidable ways.
Interviews with the men are mixed with their old media appearances, home movies, and reenactments. It embraces the style of a true crime documentary, crafting a balanced thriller-esque feel. While this story unfolds with more than one undeniably interesting twist, the movie hints at each reveal early on. It’s easy to see where the story is going while we’re still in the first act. The audience can understand the questions that will be asked before the film gets there, robbing some of the dramatic impact.
After the twists are revealed, the film slows down, struggling to keep us engaged once we know where it’s going. The best thing the film has going for it is the genuinely surprising story it’s telling. The film rests on its twists, leaving me to wonder if it will work as well on a second viewing. Sometimes it felt like it would be just as interesting if someone described it to you.
That’s not to say it’s not still fascinating. The interviews with friends and family give us a deeper appreciation for the scope of the story. This is an unbelievable, larger-than-life story that’s both exciting and tragic. There’s a dark undercurrent throughout the film that automatically causes us to question the positivity of their initial meeting.
“Three Identical Strangers” gives us plenty to think about as it tells this unusual story. Does our DNA determine who we become? Does our environment change our outcome? Ultimately, the film doesn’t give simple answers, which is both respectable and unsatisfying. It leaves us slightly unsettled. This strange tale of a chance encounter has revealed questions about mankind that aren’t easy to confront but will stick deep inside your brain.