Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Separated-at-Birth Brothers Meet in ‘Three Identical Strangers’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | August 8th, 2018

Three Identical Strangers - Eddy Galland, David Kellman, and Bobby Shafran, separated at birth.

Tim Wardle’s documentary “Three Identical Strangers” shares the seemingly impossible tale of brothers Eddy Galland, David Kellman, and Bobby Shafran, separated-at-birth identical triplets who discovered one another as young adults in 1980. Recipient of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling shortly after its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, the movie draws on new interviews and a strong archive of visual material to paint a colorful but troubling picture of a secret study that aimed in part to gather information about nature versus nurture.

At the age of 19, Shafran showed up at Sullivan County Community College in New York to an utterly surreal welcome, as people he had never met greeted him with warm hugs and kisses. He quickly realized the students had mistaken him for someone named Eddy, and a visit with one of his doppelganger’s friends arrived at the strange truth. Eddy and Bobby met face to face in Long Island and local and regional media interest followed the long-odds discovery. And then, an even bigger bombshell detonated as David spotted an article on the siblings and recognized himself. Another meeting and the Three Musketeers were off to the races.

Reconstructing certain key events with dramatized flashbacks, Wardle gets much more mileage from the energetic section following the pre-internet celebrity of the brothers as they dazzle and delight on talk shows and in magazine articles. Playing up their “uncanny” similarities (same smokes, same taste in women, same key interests, etc.), the fellows pour on the charm with matching mannerisms, matching outfits and hairdos, and matching smiles. Madonna invites them to make a cameo in “Desperately Seeking Susan.” They party at the Copa and Studio 54. They open their signature SoHo restaurant Triplet’s and capitalize on the perfect combination of extroverted bonhomie and heartwarming human interest that draws booming business.

But the good times don’t last. Tragedy looms along with the nasty truth surrounding the circumstances of the adoptions. The roller coaster of emotional swings inherent in the story presents Wardle with a narrative conundrum that splits the film with a tonal challenge of communicating the extent of the joy and the pain. Beginning with the weird thrill and jubilance of the unexpected reunion and ending with the grim mystery of the unethical experiment that split up the brothers in the first place, Wardle shifts from the rapid-fire montage illustrating brotherly love to the tearful nightmare initiated by Viola Bernard and Peter Neubauer and facilitated through adoption agency Louise Wise Services.

“Three Identical Strangers” also hints at more subplots and characters than the length will sustain. The boys were carefully placed with parents that had already adopted an older daughter. One family was working class, one was middle class, and one was well-heeled. None were told of the existence of the other two boys. Especially tantalizing is the supporting appearance of Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein, authors of the memoir “Identical Strangers” and unwitting participants in the same set of research. Viewers eager to learn more may wish to seek out Lori Shineski’s 2017 film “The Twinning Reaction,” which also explores the same study.  

Recently in:

FARGO – Early Tuesday morning Captain Andrew Frobig seated himself at his office desk, quickly discovering that the jail count was up. About 76 people had been incarcerated over the long Veterans Day weekend bringing the total…

Best Bets

A Show for Joe

by HPR Staff

Sunday, November 25, 3-10pmSanctuary Event Center, 670 4th Ave. N, FargoA special benefit show for Joe Swegarten and his family. Joe sustained injuries from a hit and run accident this summer. Musicians from across the FM area band…

It's that time of the year when we’ve finally finished up our Halloween candy and started to deck the halls... but who’s rushing the season when it’s the season of the holiday rush? Here at HPR we’ve had shopping and…

The Third Reich—And Making A Country Great AgainI was in first grade in country school on November 9, 1938 when the Nazis, in avenging the assassination of a German embassy official in Paris by a 17-year-old Jewish youth, committed…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

Ah! The holidays are rushing at us, like well like an out of control, careening caravan. Time to start thinking about what to get the chef in the family for Christmas. The days of a new apron or oven mitt are over, or are they?An…

by Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.com With the kickoff of the holiday season (and the weather!) underway, it’s almost time for the annual holiday organ concerts at the Fargo Theatre. The concerts, put on as a partnership…

A long time ago (1977) in a galaxy far, far away (20th Century Fox) there was a film released called “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” George Lucas introduced the world to his Flash Gordon-inspired space opera featuring a…

by: Melissa Gonzalezmelissam.gonzalez@outlook.comFrom music, to sculpture, to grand scale murals, one local artist is working tirelessly to share his work with the community.The West Acres Mall is currently hosting its fifth…

by Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.com“Our mission is to invigorate civic conversation through intimate and transformative storytelling.” This statement posted on Theatre B’s website and tacked to their studio wall in…

Those who have been reading my articles for a while may remember when I interviewed Zachary Tooker about the Level Two Comedy Club at the Radisson in Fargo. While the club may have unfortunately closed, Tooker has not ceased…

Beer Snob

Warm up with a hot toddy

by HPR Contributor

by Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.com Fall is once again upon us. The leaves are turning, gardens have been pulled, and Summer’s heat has waned into Autumnal frosts. Along with the change of seasons comes a change of seasonal flavors.…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

For all intents and purposes, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party is bankrupt. North Dakota is now a one-party state. That’s sad. Because it wasn’t so long ago that we had an active two-party state government. Now the…