Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom, 2018. RAW. Cinematography by Tim Cragg. Produced by Tara Elwood, Grace Hughes-Hallett, Becky Read. Music by Paul Saunderson. Costume Design by Dawn Thompson. Film Editing by Michael Harte. National Board of Review Awards 2018. Washington Film Critics Awards 2018.
Bobby Shafran starts college in the early eighties and has something very unusual happen to him on the first day that he moves in to his dorm: girls are kissing him and guys are giving out high-fives as if they know him. A fellow student asks him if he was adopted and, because Bobby says yes, gives him the phone number of his doppelganger Eddy Galland, who went to the same school a year earlier and, it turns out, is his long-lost twin from whom he was separated at birth. When their story is picked up by local news and David Kellman sees two men who look exactly like him in the paper, he seeks them out and it is revealed that they are actually triplets who were separately placed in three different families by their adoption agency twenty years earlier. Their reunion leads to a heartwarming series of television interviews and they even start a restaurant together, but after what seems like the happy ending on a tragic story, things start to get messy. Years after finding each other, the boys begin to further investigate their origins and the story their parents were told by the adoption agency, who claimed to have split them up because they didn’t believe they could place three babies in one family. From there begins a fall down a terrifying rabbit hole involving shady doctors and a medical case study that suggests the boys were used as lab rats to solve the nature vs. nurture debate. Every time you learn something that you think is the end of the story, this brilliant documentary flips over a page and reveals something even more disturbing, told through skillfully edited sequences that emphasize repetition for haunting effect. As with all documentaries that include dramatic re-enactments, this one’s use of them in the early parts of the film are somewhat ill-advised, but the photographs and stock footage as well as the on-camera testimonies more than make up for it.