Movie review: Three Identical Strangers

Tim Wardle's separated-at-birth doc is one of the summer's biggest thrill rides.

click to enlarge Brothers, reunited. - NEON
Brothers, reunited.
Tim Wardle's Sundance sensation Three Identical Strangers starts off with a fantastical story: Two men, adopted at birth, realizing they're twins who've been separated when one is mistaken for the other on his first day of college. AND THEN, upon seeing them in the newspaper, a third man pipes up. AND THEN they get famous. AND THEN even more happens at bureaucratic levels that should be the high standard of care. (Do yourself a favour and avoid Wikipedia until after, but here's a hint, per brother David: "That's like, Nazi shit.")

Amongst the AND THENs is a fascinating riff on nature versus nurture—each of the brothers grew up in a different social class, from blue-collar to affluent, so how does that explain their many commonalities at age 19? Three Identical Strangers is really a science film wrapped in a nearly unbelievable story about humanity. Wardle's shrewd handling of the material—though the film's setup does suffer from chintzy re-enactment scenes—keeps you guessing, even when you think there are no surprises left: He leads you one way, abandons it, then brings it back in a montage to show you he was on a completely different thought all along.

It's also a very hard film to write about, so go for what you think it is, and stay for the astonishing truth.

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