Three Identical Strangers
Is amateurish the right word? Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers is an intriguing curio stripped of any semblance of ambiguity. It’s a film that cajoles its audience into thinking its story of separated triplets is something astonishing and extraordinary. It is an astonishing story about how a college student is greeted with an eerie degree of familiarity from strangers before realizing that he’s been confused for his doppelganger. News outlets cover the story of the separated twins meeting, which prompts a response from another double, prompting the triplets to become a minor media spectacle.
But it’s Wardle’s structure and methodology that takes this gift of a story and renders it limp, uninteresting, and disengaging. Staging the narrative through a series of talking heads may be a necessary obstacle to overcome, but it’s his subjects’ perpetual need to reinforce how unbelievable the events are that sufficiently renders them ordinary. Coupled with numerous reenactment sequences whose singular redeeming quality is they barely meet your standard definition of “cinematic” and you’re left with a film that grows increasingly less compelling the more it proceeds. And that’s not to mention Three Identical Strangers’ finale, which serves as the filmic equivalent of “in conclusion” by belaboring the same tired point about nature vs. nurture that many better films have addressed with more finesse. Such a profoundly strange story shouldn’t be this boring.