Three Identical Strangers

I hate when I have to start a review by saying how idiotic most movie critics are. This documentary is a prime example. I glanced on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s getting 95% good reviews, which it deserved. But only three of the critics stated that it’s best to see this without knowing much about the story, which is true. All the other critics gave everything away. Now seriously, how fun would The Sixth Sense have been if the critics told you Bruce Willis plays a ghost that’s communicating with a boy who talks to dead people? Sure, it’s easier to keep that secret, as it isn’t revealed until the end. But you can “review” this without giving away all the details of this fascinating story; or at least, I’ll give it the ol’ college try.

It’s at college where Robert (or was it David? Or Edward?) realizes something isn’t right. It’s his first day on campus and everyone is saying hi to him, asking how his summer was, and a few are saying things like “Glad to see you’re back.”

It isn’t until one guy calls him a different name, and when he asks his birthday, tells him he has a twin that went to that school the previous semester. That’s enough for a human interest story in the newspaper, which snowballs into a bigger story that got national coverage. It also leads to another guy being shown the story and told, “These guys look just like you.” Turns out, they’re triplets that all came from the same adoption agency, but were given to different families.

It was 1980 when these 19-year-olds get together and start wrestling with each other, wearing the same shirts, and appearing on Phil Donahue and at Studio 54. Even Madonna snapped them up (no, not in the Jose Canseco/Dennis Rodman way…but by putting them in Desperately Seeking Susan).

Director Tim Wardle does a good job of presenting an interesting story and taking it in fun directions. He also presents us with just the right amount of footage from various talk shows and newspaper clippings, reenactments, as well as having the guys talk about the experience today.

Sometimes the exposition-filled interviews can be a bit much, and Wardle tries harder then he needs to for emotional impact.

This movie will have you discussing the whole nature versus nurture debate, and a handful of other things. My wife and I were discussing various topics while we watched the documentary. We didn’t even wait until it was over.

It’s great that all the talking heads were so open about how all of these events unfolded. We didn’t just hear from the guys, but their wives, and other family members. Sometimes they joke, and sometimes they’re somber.

We also get an interesting story involving twin sisters Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein, who put out the story Identical Strangers a decade ago.

I don’t agree with the conclusion the movie seems to have about certain things, but that’s fine. This is a fascinating documentary you should try to catch. And if any critic has given away anything that happens in this, you should probably avoid ever reading their reviews again.

4 stars out of 5.