Tim Wardle’s thrilling stranger-than-fiction documentary Three Identical Strangers starts off wearing the mask of a traditional feel good tale. In 1980s New York, three teenagers, Bobby, Eddy and David, discover that they are triplets separated at birth. Immediately making up for lost time, the trio become inseparable and ignite a media circus in the process.
As the world marveled at their similarities, it is in their differences where the real story unfolds. In exploring what led to their separation in the first place, Three Identical Strangers uncovers a labyrinth of deception all leading towards a central question of whether it is nature or nurture that truly shapes the individuals we become?
While Wardle’s film argues for nurture, the answer is far more complex than that. As the story unravels, and secrets are revealed, the film dives into thought-provoking topics such as the nature of separation anxiety, the psychology of parenting, ethics in the realm of scientific pursuits, genetic impacts of mental illness, and so much more.
Reminiscent of the early works of Errol Morris, through its sharp editing and well-timed re-enactments, Wardle ensures that the humanity remains at the forefront of the numerous twist and turns. The result is a mesmerizing and layered mystery that you will be thinking about for days.
This review was originally published as part of our Hot Docs coverage. Three Identical Strangers opens at the Cineplex Cinemas Varsity & VIP on Friday