Some of you may remember Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman, identical triplets who were reunited very publicly in 1980. Hopefully, however, you don't know their story. It makes watching Three Identical Strangers, the documentary about their lives, a truly surreal experience. As the film explains, the triplets were separated at birth, adopted separately, and randomly reunited 19 years later. And that would be enough for an engrossing film, but there's much more to the tale.
Mixing interviews with effective re-enactments and archival footage, Three Identical Strangers weaves the brothers' lives together like a true crime film. It also hides a huge reveal as well as any documentary. But the movie begins with one memory.
Bobby Shafran remembers his first day at Sullivan County Community College when everyone welcomed him back, kissing him and hugging him like they knew him. He was gobsmacked. They were also calling him "Eddy." Bobby relays the tale wide-eyed, seemingly still in disbelief. He was, of course, being mistaken for somebody else — Eddy Galland. Eddy was the spitting image of Bobby and, as they would both soon learn, his long lost twin.
Bobby and Eddy met one another through a friend and both were immediately astonished. It was like peering into a mirror. They didn't just look the same. They moved the same, they had the same meaty hands, they spoke similarly. These guys weren't just twins. They were clones! And there was another one!
David Kellman saw his two brothers soon after their story hit newspapers. There was another reunion on the docket. David, who looked exactly like the other two, fit beside Bobby and Eddy like a puzzle piece. They became immediately inseparable. Three long-lost brothers reunited after 19 years — it was too good to be true, but it was. This was no Twilight Zone episode... not yet anyway.
A whirlwind tour of fame soon followed. They became an instant media sensation, appearing on talk shows and even scoring a shared cameo in Desperately Seeking Susan. Madonna saw them on the street while filming in New York City and exclaimed, "You're the guys! You have to be in my movie!" Life was good. They started a restaurant together, each got married, and they went on... together.
Three Identical Strangers is a movie of two halves, two moods. The second won't be ruined here, but I will reveal it investigates all the questions the boys never asked amidst the joy of their reunion. Namely, how did this happen? The answer lies in the darkness, and director Tim Wardle meticulously unearths all the fragments of the boys' shared past as he reveals everything.
Documentaries are only as good as their subjects and Three Identical Strangers couldn't be filled with more colorful characters. The boys themselves are big goofs you immediately love, and their shared mannerisms are otherworldly. As a simple study of triplets, the movie is fascinating, never mind all the backstories. Taken as a whole, the film could be the most riveting thing to hit theaters in 2018.
Even if you do remember the triplets from the '80s, you'll be shocked to learn their truth. Three Identical Strangers tells it straight, without fanfare or embellishment. There's none needed for a story like this.