‘When I tell people my story, they don’t believe it…’
Documentaries have always been on dodgy ground in terms of ethics. The grotesque joy used to describe grisly and tragic murders in true crime podcasts is one such example. The uneasy truth is that while one motivation for a documentary might be to fight injustice or raise awareness for a worthy cause, they all exist in the vortex of capitalism. Basically, like pretty much every movie ever made, most documentaries exist to make money and breed success and prestige. Goddamn, they can be awfully entertaining though…
Three young men who were all adopted at birth, are stunned to discover they are triplets. This seemingly happy story soon takes a dark turn however as the reasons for their separation begin to unfold.
Three Identical Strangers has unearthed an incredible story but the movie stands and falls on the people involved. The three strangers from the title are so effervescent and compelling that they make Tim Wardle’s film an easy watch throughout. On an ethical level however it is mildly troubling to see the camera linger after a particularly painful confession. This is standard documentary fare but when the triplets have already spent a lifetime being exploited for someone else’s gain, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. On the flip side, the subjects of this doc have obviously consented to have their story told this time, a luxury that was denied them by their adoption agency.
Putting aside the moral argument for a second, Three Identical Strangers is a unique and heartbreaking tale that asks vital questions about mental health, nature vs nurture and the adoption system, whilst still remaining, at its core, a very human story.
In a time when there has never been more competition in terms of documentaries, Three Identical Strangers stands out as a must watch. This is not only an insanely entertaining film, but also an important one.