Independent Film Festival of Boston 2018: Three Identical Strangers, by Sarah Brinks
Three Identical Strangers is one of those movies that is better the less you know about it, so I will not go much deeper than the premise of the film so you can enjoy it the same way I did. The premise of the film is all in the title, it’s about triplet boys who were separated at birth and manage to find each other at nineteen years old. It all starts when Bobby drove up to Sullivan Country Community College in 1980. When he arrived he got an overwhelmingly warm welcome from the students as they hugged and kissed him and told him how glad they were to see him. Then they started calling him Eddy. When he met his roommate Michael, his entire life changed. Michael knew the Eddy everyone kept talking about. It turned out that he was Bobby’s long-lost twin. Michael and Eddy drove to Long Island to meet Eddy and suddenly each of the twins had a brother they never knew existed. The story gets stranger after a newspaper article runs about the twins. Suddenly people recognize the twins in another friend of theirs, David. David gets in touch and it turns out they are triplets. The brothers are elated and bond almost instantly. They are thrown into instant celebrity and people go wild for the triplets.
The three boys were adopted when they were infants and the question of why they were separated is finally raised. This is the point in the film when things become even more interesting than a set of triplets, separated at birth, mysteriously finding each other after nineteen years. I don’t want to tell you any more about the film’s story because it was so satisfying but also frustrating to watch it play out of the screen and I wouldn’t want to take that away from anyone.
I am always a little dubious when there are reenactments in documentaries but they work well in Three Identical Strangers. The reenactments fill in the gaps of the story where there is not historical footage or photos and they adds color to the interviews with the boys, their friends, and family. Director, Tim Wardle, reuses footage from the reenactments, the news, and interviews to great effect. He will repeat what you have already seen to hammer home a new revelation or to put some pieces together for the audience without it feeling ham-fisted or clunky. The editing of the film overall was very strong and was a big part of what makes the film as compelling as it is.
The interviews throughout the film are fascinating. The boys are charismatic both as youths and as adults. Family dynamics are always fascinating but when you add adoption and intrigue into the mix it gets even more captivating. I am glad that we get to hear the story from the adoptive parents, aunts and uncles, spouses, friends, as well as the boys. Their story and experiences impacted all the people around them and it would have felt incomplete not to hear from them as well.
For a documentary, Three Identical Strangers has a lot of energy and life to it. It hooked me from the first moments of the documentary. I really do recommend going in knowing as little as possible, but even if you watch the trailer or read about the triplet’s story, I think you will still really like the film. The audience I watched it with was captivated.