Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers ★★★ 1/2 

If you’re intrigued by the title of filmmaker Tim Wardle’s stranger-than-fiction documentary, do yourself a favor: Stop reading and simply see the movie. Anything written here will potentially spoil the real-life drama that unfolds in chronological order, beginning in 1980, when Robert Shafran arrives for his first day at Sullivan County Community College in the Catskills. The 19-year-old had never ventured far beyond his home in New York’s Westchester County, so he didn’t really know what to make of the random strangers who were persistent in calling him “Eddy,” while high-fiving him, patting him on the back and, in at least one instance, hugging and kissing him. Robert, now in his mid-50s, relates this unusual story himself, addressing the camera in one of the numerous talking-head interviews that Wardle expertly weaves together with archival footage and re-creations involving stand-ins. Eddy Galland, it turns out, was a twin—and neither knew the other existed. Both had been adopted from the same agency by couples who were unaware their sons had originally come as a pair. Or had they? Again, read no further to retain the film’s full impact. Still here? You’ve been warned. The movie’s title alone should be your tipoff, but after Eddy and Robert’s story hit the papers, a third young man, David Kellman, saw himself in the photos, and the twins were revealed to be triplets. Ah, but this all occurs within the film’s first third. I’d be remiss to say any more, but as Wardle continues to peel back layers of this tale, you’ll be stunned to see the dark corners he illuminates. (At Coolidge Corner, Fenway, Kendall Square, Somerville and West Newton.)

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