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Three Identical Strangers

A trio of men discover they have the same face in this fascinating documentary

© CNN Films David Kellman, Robert Shafran and Eddy Galland portray the real-life young men who were all adopted, meet each other and find out they’re triplets who were separated at birth. Then they discover why.

          On the first day of college, Robert Shafran gets an odd welcome. People greet him like they’ve known him for years, girls kiss him and people call him Eddy. He, however, has no idea who Eddy is.

          After a day of being mistaken for Eddy, Robert is clued in: Eddy, a student last year, looked just like Robert. Was he adopted, a friend of Eddy’s asks, and is his birthday July of 1961? Two yesses suggest Robert may be a twin.

          He drives through the night to meet Eddy Galland, who indeed looks exactly like him.

          Their story becomes a sensation, and the boys are enjoying their brush with fame.

          That’s when the story gets really weird.

          David Kellman had heard the story of the long-lost twins finding each other after 19 years, but he hadn’t seen a picture. When he does, he’s speechless: The boys look just like him.

          David rushes to meet the two brothers he never knew he had.

          The triplets become instant celebrities. They appear on news and talk shows, pose for photo shoots in magazines and even make a cameo in a movie. The famed triplets are tempted with access to clubs, booze and women.

          While the boys soak up their fame, their families are furious. None knew that the children they adopted were part of a multiple birth. The agency insists that the boys were separated because it’s hard to place triplets in one home, but the parents sense that something else is going on.

          As the parents dig deeper into why their sons were separated at birth, the boys begin to experience the joys and turmoil of brotherhood.

          A story so bizarre it has to be true, Three Identical Strangers is a fascinating documentary about the inherent connections of biological families and the dubious medical practices of mid-20th century doctors. Director Tim Wardle (One Killer Punch) combines fascinating reenactments, touching interviews and eye-opening research to create a film that is captivating and disturbing.

          Wardle’s pacing keeps the story full of suspense. Fine framing keeps shots interesting. Each new revelation seems more unbelievable than the last.

          Interviews with Robert and David create an affecting portrait of what life was like for three men who thought they were living a fairytale only to discover a darker reason behind their origin story. Wardle also tracks down some of the people behind the separation to illustrate their chillingly disaffected nature.

          Documentary purists may not like the dramatic recreations, but there are no obvious forays into fictionalization of sensationalism. It’s a gripping true tale of three bizarre

adoptions.

          A scintillating documentary about the truth behind a front-page story, Three Identical Strangers is well worth the ticket.

Great Documentary • PG-13 • 96 mins.

 

~~~ New this Week ~~~

Christopher Robin

          Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) has fallen prey to the woes of adult life. He’s a slave to working, while his family is growing distant.

          Meeting old childhood pal Winnie the Pooh turns his life on end.

          His silly old bear has gotten lost and asks Christopher’s help to find his friends and home at the Hundred Acre Woods.

          This second Christopher Robin movie in two years is more light-hearted than the first. It’s about embracing your past and enjoying your family.

          Disney fans will be happy to know that Jim Cummings is voicing Pooh Bear in this flick, as he does in all the cartoons.

Prospects: Bright • PG • 104 mins.

 

The Darkest Minds

          When children begin developing extraordinary powers, the government contains them in camps. Apparently, these bureaucrats didn’t read X-Men comics as kids.

          Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), one of the most powerful of these teens, escapes, joins a resistance group and finds love and the courage to make a big change in the world.

          This is a variation on the same dystopian teen story that’s been circulating in cinemas for almost a decade, The Darkest Minds will probably be thrilling for those who’ve just received their learner’s permit, but not for many others. Still, if you’re interested in seeing Stenberg, who is usually luminous and fun, float through the air and lead a revolution, this might be worth a trip to the multiplex.

Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 105 mins.

 

Eighth Grade

          Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is on the cusp of high school. With one week left in her eighth grade year, she fears what’s to become of her. Though she’s funny and bright on her YouTube channel, she’s painfully awkward and shy around her contemporaries.

          Will Kayla find her voice? Or is she destined to be the overlooked high schooler?

          Acclaimed by critics, Eighth Grade is a moving, funny look at the everyday angst of being a teen. It offers understanding and sympathy to the children it follows and ventures to recapture their experience exactly.

          If you’ve got kids entering this critical phase of life — or want to reminisce — this film is well worth the ticket.

Prospects: Bright • R • 94 mins.

 

The Spy Who Dumped Me

          Audrey (Mila Kunis) is surprised when her ex shows up in her apartment. She’s even more surprised when a horde of assassins follows him in. After a brush with death, she discovers that the ex was a spy.

          Now that she’s in the middle of a conspiracy that could topple governments, Audrey commits to finishing the mission. Joining her on her quest is her BFF, Morgan (Kate McKinnon), who sees the whole thing as a grand adventure.

          Can two untrained women perfect their spy craft before they’re killed? Or is this mission impossible?

          A zany comedy starring two wonderful women, The Spy Who Dumped Me could be a breezy romp — except for its hackneyed replay of tired spy jokes. McKinnon has a knack for spinning gold from anything, so she may be able to pull laughs from this script.

Prospects: Flickering • R • 116 mins.