Tim Wardle directs Edward Galland, David Kellman and Robert Shafran in this documentary about triplets separated at birth, who rediscovered each other by accident in their late teens and became media sensations.
There’s a wobbly moment during the opening stretch of this brilliant documentary where I thought we were in for the same old trouble. One of the talking heads recounted the humdrum tale of getting a speeding ticket with such detail and emphasis that I suddenly got the sinking feeling there wasn’t enough story beyond the awe-inspiring hook. Was I due for an hour of “will this do” filler to pad out a decent concept. I was wrong, Three Identical Strangers has twists and turns to spare. So much so that it skips over one of the charming three brothers involvement in a gang murder… the speeding ticket must have felt of paramount importance. When you have this many threads to explore (strained relationships, media circus, hardcore 80s hedonism, a far reaching conspiracy) murder becomes downgraded to an aside. Sure, Wardle frames the occasional revelation with a fair amount of manipulation (one adoptive parent comes in for harsh editorial judgement based on mere theory) and the non-linear approach sometimes stacks information against the viewer’s natural sense of deduction. Yet as an exploration of three unique and entertaining characters, plus a wider examination of the Nature V Nurture debate, this proves to be a real life Twins meets Trading Places. One that holds your attention like a vice.
My Top 10 Documentaries
1. Comedian (2002)
2. Hoop Dreams (1994)
3. Man On Wire (2008)
4. Man With a Movie Camera (1929)
5. Voyeur (2017)
6. The Power of the Witch (1971)
7. Paris is Burning (1990)
8. When We Were Kings (1997)
9. Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)
10. Dogtown and the Z Boys (2001)