The much talked about documentary “Three Identical Strangers” is based on a true story that, as one subject in the film puts it, “goes from amazing to incredible.” The film tells the saga of a trio of triplets who were separated at birth and were reunited at age 19 by a series of random coincidences in 1980. Bobby, Eddy, and David were given up for adoption as babies and sent out to three different families in the New York area.
The film starts out as a feel-good fairy tale reunion before it goes to some very dark places. It’s one of those documentaries that is easily spoiled if you know the big twist surprises (and yes, there are many more than just one). The less you know about these men, the better you’ll enjoy it. The twists are often jaw-dropping, but director Tim Wardle barely scratches the surface on some of the more astonishing facts and allegations.
The film questions the very concept of nature, identity, and nature vs. nurture. It raises difficult questions about free will, socioeconomic status, genetics, and scientific morality, but chooses not to explore them fully. It’s ultimately unsatisfying because it doesn’t offer any definitive conclusion.
Not helping things is the lack of filmmaking flair. It’s straightforward and newsy in its bland, repetitive storytelling, far too often feeling like a visual book report of facts and file footage that’s repeated in an attempt to beef up the length of the project. This documentary could’ve lost at least 30 minutes to become tighter and more enjoyable, an incredible true story that would benefit from a razor-sharp focus.