Three Identical Strangers
This documentary about three identical twins, Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland and David Kellman, who were separated at birth then later reunited in the early 80s, belongs alongside such docs as ‘Capturing the Friedmans’ and ‘The Imposter’ for its combination of uncomfortable queasiness and couldn’t-make-it-up revelations.
It begins like a mystery thriller as the nineteen-year-old Bobby arrives for the first time at his community college (the early scenes are recreated with actors, the real key figures narrating). There, to his surprise, he is greeted by numerous students on campus as ‘Eddy’. When the real Eddy, Bobby’s lost brother, shows up the story of the reunited twins is widely covered in the media. When a third brother, David, spots their picture in a newspaper article, the duo become a trio. Despite having being raised in wildly contrasting economic circumstances, the brothers bond immediately.
The reunited triplets quickly become a media sensation appearing on chats shows, becoming regulars at hot nightspots like Studio 54, and even cameoing in ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’.
Their identical body language, obvious affection for each other, mischievous sense of humour and easy rapport makes them hugely popular with the public and they open up a restaurant to cash in on their profile. When an investigative reporter looks into the affair in greater detail, focusing on the Jewish adoption agency, Louise Wise Services, their story becomes far murkier and more problematic.
At this point, the picture morphs from a feel-good tale of reunited brothers into a disturbing meditation on the nature vs nurture debate and ethical practice. The jaunty editing in the first half effectively illustrates the brothers’ delight in their mutual discovery, but the film runs out of steam following the shocking revelation midway.