Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Three Identical Strangers: NZIFF Review

Three Identical Strangers: NZIFF Review


Slick and surprising, Three Identical Strangers benefits from the less-you-know approach going in.

Opening with a talking head saying "When I tell people my story, they don't quite believe it", there's very much the feeling of a shaggy dog approach as it first begins.

Essentially, it's the story of how Bobby a freshman at a US college in 1970 showed up on his first day and was told he was someone else - repeatedly by other people on campus.

Deciding to meet with this "other person", a world opens up to Bobby he could never have expected -and it gets stranger from there.
Three Identical Strangers: NZIFF Review

There's a certain amount of zip from Three Identical Strangers as it progresses initially with such gusto you wonder how director Tim Wardle will continue its pace. It has the feel of a viral tale writ large, a hoax gone mad, and a truth long buried with implications from the beginning - but in the latter stages of the piece, there's more to chew on than the headline-grabbing opening, a sense that something is dreadfully unfinished.

Themes are explored and with degrees of sensitivity throughout - apart from one galling sequence towards the end, much too spoilery to discuss, but which presents accusations that are not even close to being backed up and which sit at odds with the rest of what transpires.

There's a feeling that Three Identical Strangers slows a little in the back third, as it becomes weighed down in its bigger issues - it forgets and loses the humanity that keeps it so grounded and informative early on. However, Wardle has fashioned a story that keeps the viewer so engaged at the outset, that you're willing to overlook such transgressions toward the end.

Ultimately, Three Identical Strangers presents a story well told, with a kernel of something more within - it feels like it raises more questions than it asks, and brings to mind The Imposter, from a New Zealand International Film Festival a few years back. It's likely to be a talking point of the festival for anyone who views it, and certainly, the ramifications demand more exploration.

It's just a shame that final 10 minutes feel so baseless in their aim - certainly after what's transpired, there's no reason to be anything other than riveted throughout.

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