Critics' Pick

Three Identical Strangers (NR)

Documentary 96 min. July 13, 2018
By Bilge Ebiri
The best way to experience Tim Wardle's documentary Three Identical Strangers is to do so without knowing a single thing about it. It's an excellent movie, and you should see it. If that's all you need, you can stop reading now.
For those still here, I'll try to steer clear of the film's most shocking revelations. The movie opens in 1980, with 19-year-old Robert Shafran arriving at Sullivan County Community College in the Catskills. It's his first day at that school, and yet everybody on campus appears to know him and call him "Eddy." (Wardle cannily mixes staged recreations with talking head interviews and archival footage, so we experience much of the narrative in the present tense.)

A fellow student, starting to realize what's going on, grabs Robert and drives him to the Long Island home of 19-year-old Eddy Galland -- and Robert comes face to face with himself. Or rather, his exact doppelganger. Eddy and Robert, it turns out, are identical twins, separated at birth, now brought together by an amazing coincidence. So, they get newspaper stories written about their startling reunion ... whereupon a third person shows up: David Kellman of New York City. They're triplets.
Then, relations start to strain between the brothers. From there, the story goes absolutely bonkers, taking twists that send things spinning not just in another direction, but practically into another dimension -- one far more paranoid and tragic.
It takes skill and artistry to shape a film with this many layers so that it's clear and emotionally resonant. Wardle never loses sight of the humans at this story's heart.
Tim Wardle Silvi Alzetta-Reali, Eddy Galland, Ron Guttman, David Kellman, Adrian Lichter Neon

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