Three Identical Strangers
Five years in the making, carefully executed documentary Three Identical Strangers from director Tim Wardle follows the controversial journey of adopted triplets David Kellman, Edward Galland and Robert Shafran. The brothers were split up by their adoption agency at six months old and placed in separate families of varying economic backgrounds, and the film exposes the reasons behind that decision with a raw brutality that wavers between the joyous and harrowing as the trio unexpectedly discover each other 19 years later and start looking for answers.
Robert (Bobby) and Edward (Eddy) are the first to meet, their paths crossing unintentionally through mutual university friends, with David not long on the trail after seeing some media coverage of their meeting. Their reunion is played out beautifully on screen. Wardle captures the joy, laughter and love as they navigate their new lives with each other. Appearances that follow on numerous TV shows, a brief film cameo and the success of their own restaurant Triplets elevate their notoriety and we, the viewers, ride the tide of their initial euphoria too.
Although home footage and press cuttings saturate the documentary, the narration and ongoing interview with two of the brothers, Bobby and David, effectively dominate the work and tie us directly to their emotional journeys. Viewers will, however, note the physical absence of Eddy from the film before learning of his unfortunate suicide in later years. The sadness of his absence only deepens as the documentary takes a shocking and disturbing turn.
With help from their adoptive parents, the triplets discover their placements were an experimental study of “nature versus nurture” masterminded by child psychiatrist Peter Neubauer. Wardle accesses interviews with two of the scientist’s research team. Their lack of responsibility and empathy is excruciatingly chilling to watch; they dub the experiment as “part of the design” and casually reveal further horrors.
Unfortunately, a lack of circumstantial evidence – with the documented research locked away at Yale University until 2066 – leaves the brothers bewildered and slightly tortured. The air hangs heavy with so many unanswered questions but as we can see for ourselves, the damage has been done: these lab rats are already emotionally poisoned.
Three Identical Strangers is released in select cinemas on 30th November 2018.
Watch the trailer for Three Identical Strangers here: