Three Identical Strangers is a documentary about three brothers who are triplets and who only learn of each others existence in their late teens. How they meet is amazing but there is much more to the story. It begins with enthusiasm by showing a re-enactment of how Bobby Shafran finds out about his brother. He’s on his first day at a New York community college when some students begin greeting him as Eddy. He learns from a roommate that he looks exactly like Eddy Galland, a former student. So Bobby gets Eddy’s home address and travels there to greet his brother for the first time. Their story spreads over the newspapers but only to lead to another surprise. The discovery of a third brother David Kellman who looks just like them and with the same birthday. The three become a nation’s sensation.
For most of the time, it is a feel-good documentary. We see photos of the brothers reunited, going out in public, and appearing on TV shows such as on Phil Donahue. It’s even revealed that they like the same colors, hobbies, and date the same kind of women, and even smoke the same cigarettes. It’s wonderful to watch. Their wives describe them as such: one is sociable, another is reserved, and the other is fun. Then the documentary takes a turn in the last act. It so happens that they had issues. An example unveils that the brothers had disagreements in business affairs which led to a bitter outcome. Another scene reveals that one was raised by a strict distant parent. Plus a revelation with dark implications about why the boys were adopted separately. It’s by this point that the documentary tone feels unbalanced- The abounding feel-good moments are completely overcome by dark times. It feels sudden or crammed in. Perhaps it needed more running time. Nevertheless, this is an intriguing and touching documentary directed by Tim Wardle. Its questions are not all answered and there is a genuine concern about the reveal. The expose’ is angled toward finding who is responsible and particularly why. But the brothers do have a strong case to investigate.