Movie review: Three Identical Strangers

Sometimes they could complete each other’s sentences.

Three Identical StrangersThe documentary Three Identical Strangers starts off with a fun re-enactment. In 1980, on Bobby Shafran’s first day at Sullivan County (NY) Community College, about 110 miles from Long Island, he’s being high-fived and hugged by people who are total strangers. This leads to the discovery that he has a twin brother, Eddy Galland.

David Kellman sees the news, recognizes himself in the pair, and soon there is a wonderful reunion 19 years later of the three boys born July 12, 1961. This is a story so unlikely that, if it were a piece of fiction, it might well have been rejected as absurd. The brothers already had many of the same affectations; they all smoked Marlboro cigarettes, wrestled in high school, and claimed similar tastes in the kind of women they were attracted to.

As they started dressing alike, their infectious personalities and toothy grins made them talk show fodder. (I’m fairly sure I saw them on NBC’s TODAY show at the time). These boys instantly loved one another. Sometimes they could complete each other’s sentences. They enjoyed their modicum of fame. They even appeared in a cameo with Madonna in the movie Suddenly Seeking Susan.

Once the initial exhilaration passed, the adoptive parents started asking questions. To say more here would be giving away too much. I will say that the movie addresses the ethics of adoptions and asks, though not fully addresses – because it can’t really be answered – the question of nature versus nurture in childhood development.

Tim Wardle is a well-regarded British documentary director. He had a tough time negotiating through the sometimes raw emotions, not only the boys and their adoptive parents, but some of the more peripheral characters.

Of course, I needed to know how frequently one will find identical siblings. “Only about one in 250 births is identical twins, according to a 2003 study in the Journal of Biosocial Science. Identical triplets are even less common, occurring about 20 to 30 times per 1 million birth.”

The movie Three Identical Strangers would be well worth your while.

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