Three twins separated at birth that grow miles away from each other, in different environments and families, without knowing anything about each other. Then, life makes one discover and find another and the two together find the third. In the United States, the true story of the three twins that fate brought together finds space in all the newspapers, the three now men become famous, make appearances in movies and open restaurants.
What better thing to adapt for a film that could be a breath of fresh air, a source of good feelings for those who leave the cinema after seeing it? And in fact it is these days in American theaters Three Identical Strangers, a documentary directed by Tim Wardle that tells the extraordinary meeting of the three, but unfortunately also the dramatic evolution of their history, with the result that the film becomes more than anything else a cue of reflection on human nature and leaves a sense of bitterness rather than well-being.
Made through the stories of the protagonists, witnesses of this incredible story and repertoire images, Wardle’s documentary begins to tell the story from 1980, when Robert Shafran, nineteen, enrolled at Sullivan County Community College, in New York State . As often happens to many students on the first day of university, the sense of insecurity and embarrassment prevails over the ailment, so Robert would like to be noticed as little as possible, go unnoticed. And yet, the exact opposite happens to him: everyone smiles, says hello, asks him how he is. But they call him Eddy, because it’s Eddy Galland who swapped him, a student who had been in that College until recently.
It will be Michael Domitz, Robert’s roommate, to explain the misunderstanding to the newcomer: same curly and black hair, same mouth, same smile. Even the same physicist, Robert and Eddy are both tall and broad-shouldered. When Robert then learns that Eddy’s birthday is July 12, 1961, he realizes that it’s not just a matter of coincidences, Eddy is his twin brother. The two were separated at birth and their cases were then managed by the agency Louise Wise Services.
But now fate has made them rediscover and their, so far, beautiful story is told by all the newspapers and local television networks. This is how a Queens lady discovers that the twins are not two, but three and the third is her adopted son David. The three, gathered, are celebrated by half the United States, appear on the covers of magazines, are photographed by Annie Leibovitz and participate, for a cameo, also in Cercasi Susan desperately, the film with Madonna and Rosanna Arquette. In New York their restaurant, Triplets becomes a trendy place.
Why, however, no one, not even the adoptive parents, had been told the truth? Lawrence Wright is the New Yorker journalist, Pulitzer Prize, who will help the twins back in time and discover that they are the three survivors of a quadrigemellar birth. Wright tells this part of the story, which is the dramatic part, in the documentary Three Identical Strangers: the newborns were the guinea pigs of the psychiatric experiments Peter Neubauer and Viola Bernard, whose goals were to understand in this way how individuals with the same genes they would be behaving in different environments.
Robert, Eddy and David were then entrusted to three families of different social classes, with the complicity of the adoption agency, Louise Wise Services, which, however, now reported, claims to have never learned anything about the experiments.
Eddy took his own life in 1995, he suffered from depression, but many argue that having discovered that he had been the guinea pig of an experiment throughout his life led him to take this tragic decision. Dr. Neubauer died in 2008. Not being able to ask questions, for his documentary Wardle, Natasha Josefowitz, the former assistant, now in her ninety years old, intervenes in the psychiatrist who has followed him in all his experiments. The woman tries to convince director and audience that what we have become in life, what we have done, has depended on our genes.
It is with the intention of proving this that psychiatrists have separated the twins, making them grow into different realities and going to find them (like other separated twins) each year to test them. It is the opposite theory to that according to which almost everything we are depends on the nature and environment in which we live. Tim Wardle gives space to both theses without supporting either of them.