By Jack Dignan
Imagine walking down the street one day, turning a corner and coming face to face with an identical twin you never knew you had. How would you react? What would you be thinking? Could this be real? Surely it’s not. But at the same time, it is. What would you do? Who would you call? There’s a lot of explaining that needs to be done, but before you even get your mind wrapped around this puzzling situation, a third stranger arrives, and once again, they’re completely identical. You are, as it turns out, a triplet, and you’ve just met the brothers you never knew you had. While different and far more complex in execution, this is the basic premise of Three Identical Strangers.
In 1979, Eddy Galland, David Kellman and Robert Shafran were three completely anonymous young adults each making their way in the world. In 1980, they were brothers, and after a lifetime of separation, they finally became inseparable. It’s a story that shook the world, and one I was, thankfully, not familiar with, which allowed this documentary to completely take me by surprise. Their story is so twisted, so shocking and so powerful that it demands to be seen. You haven’t heard a story like this before.
What starts as a sort of quirky, hilarious, fun-loving story of triplets separated at birth and rekindled by accident decades later slowly evolves in a dark, unfathomable examination of humanity. If you’re not familiar with this story already, don’t Google it. Tim Wardle’s impressive documentary continues to unravel new layer upon new layer throughout the entirety of its 96 minute runtime, and the further down this rabbit hole they fall, the closer your jaw will be to hitting the ground.
It’s such a powerfully constructed exploration of human genealogy, nature vs. nurture, and the significance and perils of attempting to manipulate human life. Details are difficult to discuss without delving into spoiler territory, but the gradual tonal shift is a welcomed one. The second half in particular adapts a much darker approach to tell this story, leaving you frustrated at the events that transpired, and are probably still transpiring to this day. These events didn’t just stop in the 80s. The repercussions are still being felt, and when the final credits rolled, I just sat in the theatre in stunned silence.
The two remaining triplets, David and Robert, are the main voices behind this haunting documentary, but their charming well-spoken manner makes their narrative all the more delightful. You’re constantly sitting there, eagerly anticipating the next word. It’s not always told in chronological order, instead choosing to reveal new bits of information over the course of the film and reflecting upon its impact of the past, but it completely works. You feel the impact of the shock just as much as these real people do, and it ends on a note that leaves the film open to further discussions.
However, this ending does seem to leave its themes in a very conclusive state, to the point where they pretty much spell out what this entire film means. It’s an ending that could’ve used a little more subtlety. I get it, it’s a documentary, they’re meant to be informative, but at that moment they’d already given us enough information that I’d pieced together my own take-away, and having it spelt out does leave the film on somewhat of a sour note. However, the journey getting there is one you can’t possibly miss. This story is big - bigger than you’re probably anticipating. If you don’t experience it for yourself, you’re just doing yourself a disservice.
Like the article? Make sure to spread the word on social media.
You May Also Like: