Three Identical Strangers (2018)

three identical strangers poster 2018 movie
8.0 Overall Score

Interesting subject, goes a different direction than you think

Could have even been longer

Movie Info

Movie Name: Three Identical Strangers

Studio: RAW

Genre(s): Documentary

Release Date(s):  January 18, 2018 (Sundance)/June 29, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

three identical strangers eddy galland david kellman bobby shafran triplets

The wacky ’80s!

David Kellman, Eddy Galland, and Bobby Shafran discovered a secret about their lives in 1980…they were adopted triplets that through chance encounters and publicity discovered each other. While the discovery of an instant family seemed like a gift, a darker side lurked underneath. The separation of the triplets and other children might not have been as accidental as the Louise Wise Adoption Agency initially made it seem.

Directed by Tim Wardle, Three Identical Strangers is a documentary about the lives of the Eddy, David, and Bobby and the experiment of which they were unwittingly included. The documentary premiered at Sundance and won a jury prize for storytelling. It was also short listed for the 91st Academy Awards for Best Documentary.

The idea of the divisions between people, and nurture and nature are always fascinating. The stories of twins who marry people with the same name and have dogs of the same name indicate that there more be more to genetics and brain make-up than we know (or like). While the meeting of these three brothers was an amazing stroke of luck, the darkness behind their story is the real heart.

three identical strangers tom brokaw

…if only social media had existed…millionaires

The documentary starts out pretty light. It is a story of three odd ball guys finding friendship and family and becoming “complete” as a result. The story seemed relatively positive with their friends and family accepting the other children into their lives and the brothers even opening a restaurant together (and appearing as a cameo in Desperately Seeking Susan). The story then takes a dark turn.

The separation of the brothers was proven to be intentional by Lawrence Wright who discovered that the brothers and others were part of a social experiment by Peter B. Neubauer and Viola W. Bernard to see what aspects of persona were environmental and which aspects were natural. The children were frequently studied by researchers under the guise of an adoption study, but they never learned the truth of the study.

three identical strangers eddy galland suicide

The darker side

With Eddy Galland’s suicide and others in the experiment, the act becomes almost criminal since many of the “subjects” were displaying mental health issues that weren’t necessarily being treated (this is even overtly said by a surviving researcher that they talked to). The experiment seems shocking especially under the umbrella of a Jewish run organization since many of the people involved had relatives who survived inhuman experiments at the hands of the Nazis…it feels like “in the name of science” isn’t a good enough answer for intentionally separating children without trying to place them in single homes.

Three Identical Strangers is a documentary that goes a completely different direction than you expect it to go, but it remains compelling throughout. It brings up lots questions that while in a scientific aspect are interesting, it feels like morally the toll is too great on the subjects. Would Eddy, David, and Bobby have been better if they had never discovered each other? It will never be known, but it makes you wonder what would have happened if they never were separated in the first place.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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