(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)


CAPSULE: Three men who never met discover that they were born on the same day and are genetically identical. At first this makes them celebrities all over the world. The odds against that happening by chance are phenomenal. But if it did not happen just by chance, who did it and why did they do it? And what are the psychological effects of having their lives determined for them before they were ever born. It sounds like science fiction, but the story is true. Director: Tim Wardle. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

Apparently the whole story had been hushed for decades. But the truth started coming out when Robert went to college. As dramatized in THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS, before he was even in the dorm "friends" were welcoming back to a college where he had never been before. To make the situation stranger people kept calling him "Eddy." Robert's new roommate insisted that his old roommate was Eddy who had to have been Robert's identical twin. Both Robert and Eddy had the same birthday and physically they seemed to be very similar. The only conclusion was that they were identical twins who nonetheless never were told of the other's existence.

Then came the discovery that the boys were not twins after all. They were triplets. A third boy, David, was a genetic duplicate of the other two. When the press got hold of the story that there were triplets around they were an immediate fascination. The three showed up on talk shows. The public had a thirst for knowing what characteristics the three had in common. And what they did not have in common. They were a perfect laboratory for studying the nature vs. nurture question.

For a while the days were heady. The boys started a restaurant together and people would come for the fun of getting a look at the celebrities. But instead of the triplets being a novelty, they seemed more a source for clinical study. They realized their condition was not a matter of chance but had been the result of deliberate tampering. And the results of this tampering (when they could be obtained) were not always good.

One problem with the film is the assumption that identical twins are indeed identical. People who have lived in close proximity to identical twins usually learn to tell them apart. When we see twins together in this film we can usually tell them from one another. Their faces may have a slightly different shape or one may have had a recent haircut.

For me the largest problem of the film was that the director is just too vague to pinpoint at what point the original studies became actually evil. If designed properly the studies do not seem on the face of them always wrong. It seems reasonable to do psychological studies look at young children and how their psychology is affected by factors like the order of childbirth, proximity of other children in their neighborhoods, etc. One has to be very careful to be sure no damage is done. The studies in question sound like they could possibly even be innocuous. The studies appeared to be observational observations. The psychological results of the testing were the result of unexpected factors.

This film would be a very good pairing with Michael Powell's PEEPING TOM.

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					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2018 Mark R. Leeper