Sundance Film Festival review: “Three Identical Strangers” heartbreaking look at love, loss and DNA


Not rated

Directed by Tim Wardle

Grade: Four stars

 

What makes us who we are?

That’s only one of the heartbreaking questions brought up by “Three identical Strangers,” a documentary about triplets who were divided as part of a secret science experiment and found each other later in life. Though the secrecy behind the experiment is a ghost that haunts the documentary, the movie’s real power comes from examining the stories of the three brothers who started their lives together 19 years too late.

The documentary starts with the story of the triplets’ reunion, which happened in 1980 when they were all 19. Some of the movie’s most profound shots are simply closeups of the brothers’ faces, their expressions saying far more about what happened than words ever could. Their faces light up when they remember the good times, and absolutely empty when they remember the bad ones. You can see love, guilt and sorrow all over their faces, and it hurts to watch.

Talk about the experiment turns a little chilling at times, but far more fascinating is the talk it inspires about nature versus nurture. The conclusion it comes to is hard won, and feels very accurate for a film that’s this much about love and loss.

(Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute)

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