Film Review: Three Identical Strangers

This is a crazy story, so out-there that it defies belief. Twins, separated at birth, find each other and then a third finds them, making them triplets unaware of each other’s existence for the first 19 years of their lives. How did this happen? The film digs into the mystery and comes up with some very strange, sinister and unsettling answers, many of which only lead to more questions. I found it to be one of the more compelling, fascinating and unexpectedly moving documentaries I’ve seen.

The film opens with one of the triplets relating the story of how he came to discover his brother by being mistaken for him at college. Their reunion became a news story big enough to attract the attention of a third brother, who got in touch as soon as he heard about them. They became something of celebrities in the 80’s as a result of their story getting national newspaper coverage, but as they began to investigate the circumstances of their situation they uncovered a bizarre chain of evidence that adds up to what looks like some kind of cover-up.

To say anything more would spoil the film’s genuinely shocking twists and turns. The filmmakers use archival footage, modern-day interviews and re-enactments to tell the story, all of which are exceptionally well put-together and make a great unified whole that demonstrates the puzzle-like nature of the triplets’ quest for more information. The implications are challenging and a little disturbing, but what I liked most about it is that it presents every side in a very balanced way. Knowing how easy it is to manipulate information for dramatic effect, I appreciate the filmmakers’ even-handedness in allowing the audience to decide for themselves how to feel.

I highly recommend Three Identical Strangers for its compelling subject matter, the excellence of its assembly and just the astoundingly twisted tale it tells. This is the kind of documentary I love. I give it a solid 8 out of 9.

Trailer

Once again, Mark Kermode’s review nails it: