There is just something about documentaries this year. Here’s another amazing one.
Synopsis: New York, 1980: three complete strangers accidentally discover that they are identical triplets, separated at birth. The 19-year-olds’ joyous reunion catapults them to international fame, but it also unlocks an extraordinary and disturbing secret that goes beyond their own lives – and could transform our understanding of human nature forever. (Mongrel Media)
Starring: Eddy Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran
Director: Tim Wardle
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 96mins
Who would have thought that a documentary would have so many ups and downs? It may technically be a documentary but over time, this film becomes so much more. It is about exactly what the title suggests, three identical strangers. More specifically, it’s about a trio of young 19 year-old men, Eddy Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran, who stumbled onto each other’s existence as identical triplets separated at birth in 1980s New York. Imagine walking down the street and finding someone who just happens to look exactly like yourself. Shocking right?
This was exactly what these men were feeling. Their almost unbelievable story ballooned very quickly, putting them in the public eye and making them celebrities almost overnight. After finally meeting each other, it was clear how these men were alike. From there, the film showed them making up for lost time by acting just like 19 year-olds would. Their parents, however, had different concerns. Just like their children, they did not know the truth about them. The triplets didn’t care as much as their parents did since they were finally together and they took full advantage of that.
Unfortunately, the mystery behind the triplets’ upbringing continued to loom large. As the truth was slowly unveiled, layers were slowly peeled away from each triplet. The question then became about the ethics behind not only telling the truth to prospective parents about the children they’re adopting but also the idea of separating twins at birth. A big theme in the film was the idea of nature vs. nurture. The triplets may have been anatomically identical, however, their time apart along with their different environments impacted their development in ways that became more and more clear as the film went on, ending in tragedy.
The search for the truth behind the separation of the triplets almost became like a thriller. It was eventually revealed that several entities colluded together in separating the triplets and other identical twins at birth for the purpose of using them in a study in order to research the idea of nature vs. nurture. These researchers even knew that these children were twins and kept the truth from them. Once this was revealed, everything suddenly became clearer. It was simply tragic to see what happened to all these children and their families, not just the triplets, but what was even more sickening was the blatant cover up that followed. It was easy to relate to the sheer frustration on display as the study they were a part of has yet to be published so no one knows the extent of their findings. While this issue has yet to be solved, at the end of the day this film has made considerable strides in the right direction which was nice to hear.
Overall, the film takes a strong stance, however, whether or not you can empathize with the researchers will have an impact on how you’ll experience this film. However, the story of these triplets and other separated twins hit a wide range of emotions. It was happy, sad, sickening, frustrating, and thrilling to watch but it was never not compelling to watch while empathizing with these triplets. Though it may have had plenty of ups and downs, it was a fun ride that got you to feel and is unlike many other documentaries out there.