From 2018's "Three Identical Strangers."

Three Identical Strangers July 26, 2018  


Tim Wardle









1 Hr., 36 Mins.

college! But then the over-familiarity became eerie: Why was everyone acting as though they knew him?


Shafran found out that a young man named Eddy Galland had attended Sullivan the year before, but dropped out once spring quarter wrapped up. He also found out that Galland looked exactly like him. When Shafran and Galland met for the first time — that same night, as a result of understandable eagerness — it was clear that these men weren’t merely lookalikes. They were twins who had been separated at birth. They were born on the same day, and were adopted from the Louise Wise agency.


Their story was picked up by Newsday; it became a feel-good story for the ages. Then another twist transpired. After reading the story, Queens College student David Kellman noticed that Galland and Shafran looked an awful lot like him. And that they, too, were born on July 12, 1961, and adopted from Louise Wise Services. When the trio came together for the first time, there were no formal introductions or awkward small talk. The connection was instant.


Galland, Shafran, and Kellman were featured on numerous small-time talk shows and spotlighted in myriad slow-news-day articles; they even cameoed in Desperately Seeking Susan, the Madonna star vehicle from 1985.


They are also the subjects of Three Identical Strangers, a gripping new documentary by the British filmmaker Tim Wardle. The movie has no narrator; it instead comprises talking head-style interviews with its persons of interest and their loved ones, and features inevitable, but tasteful, reenactments to add color to the story being told. The film is first heartwarming, then troubling. Which is unavoidable, I suppose, when triplets discover they were separated at birth but no one knows exactly why.


We do find out why in Three Identical Strangers. But it is best not to reveal that here. Part of the movie’s appeal is how reliably it eats itself — and how it appears to be one thing in one moment, but in another, might metamorphose into something else entirely.


I walked into the theater having only heard about the movie a couple of hours before. My friends and I were looking to do something to cap off a sleepy afternoon, and it was suggested that we try out this movie, as it was one of the few films we hadn’t yet seen at the nearby cineplex. This is, perhaps, the best way to view Three Identical Strangers — to know next to nothing about what it is about and let it unfurl gradually. It is quite an expedition. A-


obby Shafran, a Scarsdale native, discovered he had a twin brother around the time he turned 19. Not through an earnest phone call or a seemingly misdirected letter, but through a phantasmagorical experience. Upon arriving at Sullivan Community College for the first time, in 1980, he found himself almost immediately treated as if he were a household name. On the walk from his beat-up car — a rusty piece of scrap called “The Bitch” — to his derelict dorm room, he received brotherly hugs and friendly kisses from his soon-to-be classmates. What a welcoming

This review also appeared on Verge Campus.