One of my favorite films screened at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2018 was Three Identical Strangers. This film is a documentary about three adopted young men that find out at the age of 19 that they are identical triplets separated at birth. They quickly become soul mates caught in a whirlwind of media coverage around the nation. For the first third of the film I gasped, laughed, even welled up at the events unfolding before me. I was on the edge of my seat just waiting for a “…but.” Not only does the “…but” arrive, but it is followed by a fast succession of more and more twists and turns. This story gives a new meaning to, “but wait, there’s more.”
Director Tim Wardle does an amazing job cultivating an audience relationship with these boys, using staged close-up and head-on interviews with David and Bobby. We want to know if these three men will find their truth. Starting as a drama, this film quickly rolls into a thriller with each turn, building on one reveal after another. We follow the triplets’ journey as they discover themselves through each other and chase down the big question: why were they separated in the first place?
This film digs deep into the age-old nature verses nurture question in a way that seeks to provide the answer we’ve all been looking for. Having the opportunity to discuss the film in an open question/answer setting, the audience at Full Frame jumped at the chance to ask about the boy’s lives, how the director found the story and what his take on nature verses nurture was (he leaned on the side of nature at that moment, but admitted he hasn’t been able to make up his mind concretely). As for me, I just may have been sold on nurture.