Three Identical Strangers

Reviewed
Sat. 11/24/18
Three Identical Strangers
3.0833333333333
Acting
4
4/5
Morality
4
4/5
Music
3.5
3.5/5
Story
2.5
2.5/5
Visuals
3.5
3.5/5
Kernel Factor
1
1/5
Essentially a CNN Special Report.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
DVD or Streaming >27in
Viewing Crew:
Significant Other
Times Watched:
1
Genre:
Documentary
Payment Method:
Rental/Redbox
Review:

"Three Identical Strangers" was one of the most popular and successful documentaries of 2018. I was born in the 80's - 1989 :) - but I had never heard of this story before, and I didn't know if other people had either (which is funny). So for me, I expected this film was going to be a documentary about three brothers who find each other after being separated at birth. And it was about that, except that evidently in the 80s this was one of the most popular stories around. So although it had elements of them uniting, since that was so overly covered in the news already, this story is actually about why they were separated and the evils that exist within their story. 

Acting
The brothers' interviews are good, except as the movie unveils its true plot, I honestly feel bad for them. Yes, because their lives haven't been easy, but also because the filmmakers seem to be doing the same thing "psychologists" did to them years ago. There's a darkness to the filmmaking that's hard to explain - I tried to do it in the Story section. All to say, the interviewees are sparse in numbers, but the character build up and break down is good.
Morality
The film is all about Morality. Is it right to study humans without their consent, never telling them, only letting them find out on their own? It certainly makes you think.
Music
Dang, a documentary with a budget. They had a great amount of 80s licensed songs in here - fun. 
Story
Okay so the trajectory of the film is rejoicing, empathizing, questioning, and then frustration. I don't want to spoil it, so I'll just leave it there. And the Story is there and its good, but one thing I didn't like about it was how much time had passed. You might think that's a strange grudge I'm holding against the film, but it has a major effect on it. Remember, this is a documentary, and people are speaking from memory - this story really happened 30+ years ago. I think it loses its edge because of how much time has passed. You don't know who to believe, you don't know who cares anymore, you don't really get the ultimate intent. 
Visuals
Great archived footage, but the interviews themselves were super basic - the green background is nasty and cheap. Nonetheless, they went/accessed where they needed to go as filmmakers. I feel like there were some missing interviews or especially archived interviews that could've rounded it out.
Kernel Factor
Usually all those production company emblems at the beginning of movies are just logos telling me I have a couple more seconds to eat my popcorn loudly. But in this case my attention was grabbed when I saw "CNN Films" as a production company. I honestly don't have anything against CNN. I don't watch the news much anymore in general. CNN produced something a few years ago that was called "The Decade" and it would do (go figure) decade visual/storytelling of the "1970s", "1980s", "1990s", etc. They were quite good. "Three Identical Strangers" has the feel of those "Decade" sagas, which is good, BUT it also has the feel of "Dateline" and/or "60 Minutes". There is so much inserted emotion and drama in this documentary - it's crazy. It's overly sensationalized at every turn and I just felt it being fabricated. In the end, I really didn't have the emotion the filmmakers wanted me to have. I think what felt the worst to me was how this story seemed to be resurrected because of how popular murder mysteries are - these brothers' story feels used to me. I honestly don't recommend watching it, but I do recommend someone make a feature-length movie on this story. It would be way better than the documentary.