Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers
seen @ Angelika Film Center, New York, NY

To know that the current administration is responsible for separating the children of immigrants from their parents, going so far as to cage them in many instances, really makes me ashamed to be an American, yet at the same time it's not too different from a despicable pattern we've followed for as long as there has been an America.

Whether the cause is anti-terrorism, or fighting the Axis, or the right to own other humans as slaves, or simple manifest destiny, there's always been somebody behind it all who will tell you, with a smile and a wink, that an act such as (but certainly not limited to) breaking up a family without their consent was for the greater good. Sometimes there is no reason behind it except meanness.

And sometimes there's a plot at work.

Please don't ask me to identify which is which.

I don't remember the story of the long-lost New York triplets — Bobby Shafran, Eddie Galland and David Kellman — reunited after an entire childhood apart; I might have been a bit too young for it to register. The story of their reunion and everything after, including the mystery of why they were separated to begin with — is what makes up Three Identical Strangers, a heartbreaking, yet warm and often funny documentary.

If this were a Hollywood screenplay written by Aaron Sorkin or somebody like that, no one would buy it because no one would believe in it. The simple coincidence of the triplets living in the same region and suddenly meeting by chance stretches credulity enough... but then again, as you learn to your shock as you watch, it wasn't entirely coincidence.

The Triplets meet Madonna in a cameo in
Desperately Seeking Susan

I think if this were a Hollywood screenplay, there'd be a race-against-time third act where the triplets unite (after a second act in which dissension tears them apart) to unravel the conspiracy against them, Da Vinci Code style. Unfortunately for them, their actual story is nowhere near as melodramatic or cliche.

It's much more about mental illness, and genetics, and above all the age-old question of nature versus nurture. Bobby, Eddie and David grew up independent of each other, yet had so many things in common it was as if they had never been separated.

The Triplets had their own Manhattan
restaurant named, of course, Triplets

Is that genetics at work? One would think so, but if so, what does that say about our ability as self-aware beings to choose? These questions are brought up in the film, and they have a direct bearing on why the triplets were separated; I can't say more without giving it away. Just see it and be amazed.

I would've seen this with Vija and company, but the @#$(+& subway made me late again, and the line for the Angelika was out the door and around the block, which isn't unusual for the Angelika on a Sunday. I hadn't been back there in quite awhile, so I forgot.

David Kellman today

I went back to see it the next day. Meanwhile, I caught up to Vija after the movie; Debbie and Sue came along. We had Japanese for an early dinner and then Sue took Vija and me on a tour of the side streets of the west Village, where she used to live.

The two of them recently spotted none other than Alec Baldwin outside his apartment building in the Village, so we all went back there, thinking we might spot him again. We didn't, of course, but I certainly had no expectations. And it was a beautiful afternoon.


  1. The tale of these brothers is a new one to me and I'm intrigued.

    Come on, you know as well as anyone the first rule of lifestyle transit users is to build in extra time for the expected unexpected. Too often I leave the house full of optimism only to miss the beginning of things.

  2. LOL! You're absolutely right, and I try to, but the trains have gotten so bad here, you have no idea. Your man Andy Byford recently said the city needs to cough up its share of the dough to pay for repairs (echoing his boss, the governor), but we pay plenty as it is!


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