Stranger Than Fiction - Three Identical Strangers
Imagine walking around a corner and running into a twin you never knew existed. Now imagine, in a complete shock to everyone involved, there are actually three of you. Now imagine they make a documentary about all of this and that isn't even the most shocking part. That's what you get with Three Identical Strangers. The strangest part isn't even the strangest part. There are so many twists and turns here you will be left reeling. If this were a roller coaster, the first 10 mins., where you hear how they discovered they were triplets, would be the clack-clack-clack of the chain taking you to the top of the first drop. Except in this case, what follows is equal parts water ride, haunted house and 4-D simulator. You will never know what's coming next because none of it makes any sense.
The film opens with Bobby going to college. When he arrives, he's greeted as Eddy. Everyone is surprised to see Eddy back and openly questions what he's doing there. Finally, when Bobby explains that he is not Eddy, Eddy's friend rushes to call him and explain that he thinks something crazy is happening. When Bobby and Eddy are united, their adopted families are in disbelief and the story makes the news. Meanwhile, David sees the news coverage and realizes they are actually triplets. When they all get together, there is a sense of euphoria that they have found what they never knew they were missing.
Once their adopted families all began to talk things over, they realized there were strange similarities in their stories that suggest that it was not an accident that they were separated at birth. What follows is one of the most bizarre stories imaginable. Power, conspiracies, mystery and tragedy all coalesce to create one of the most unbelievable stories you are ever going to see.
It almost feels like this one belongs in the 'true crime' sub-genre. Like Netflix's Making A Murderer, so many forces are involved that it is hard to keep up. But through it all, it's hard not to put yourself in their shoes--imagining how you would feel if your life unfolded in this way. The filmmakers deserve credit for not offering a superficial retelling of this story. The film really takes its time and examines the motivations on all sides. What you're left with then is a dark picture of what happens when you take something away from someone and can't give it back.
If the film has a weakness, it is in its final act, where it wanders a little too long. As this is the story of a lifetime, it is understandable they wanted to squeeze every ounce out of it. But at a certain point, the story might have been better served by removing about 15 mins. As is, however, it is hard to say what you see is not compelling--or even unsettling.
The still shots of the smiling triplets, each looking identical to the next, are perhaps the most eerie component. From the beginning, it is clear this isn't a happy story, but seeing just how deep that darkness runs makes this unlike most documentaries. You will be left realizing that human beings are basically capable of anything and sometimes no one will be held accountable for misshaping reality.
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