Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.
You ever heard the expression, “this is stranger than fiction?” Well, I have, and it was what kept repeating in the back of my mind while I was watching Twinsters, the 2014 documentary about adoption, social media, separation, and most importantly, love.
The true story of two identical twins from Korea, Samantha Futerman and Anais Bodier, who were separated at birth, the documentary chronicles their journey as they discover each other, meet, and try to find out more about their shared past and family. It begins with Anais, who was adopted by a French family, seeing a video that Samantha, who is both American and an actress, is in, and noticing that she looks startlingly like her. Anais then friends Samantha on Facebook, and the two of them begin talking, eventually meet, and, through DNA tests, discover that they are, in fact, identical twins. This story is absolutely incredible, and made all the more so by the fact that, in all likelihood, it couldn’t have happened in any other time. The world has become so interconnected thanks to the internet that we can see, speak to, and learn about, people in parts of the globe that we’d likely never have heard of otherwise. It was thanks to YouTube that Anais discovered Samantha existed. It was through Facebook and Skype that they were able to talk to each other. DNA testing, something that flat out didn’t exist a few short decades ago, was what proved that they were family. I might complain to my friends sometimes about how our generation is too technology dependent, and how social media has drawn us out of the real world, but stories like this remind me that good can come from constantly being connected to others. It allows us to interact, form bonds with, and help people, and even gives us opportunities that we might not otherwise get.
Now, in terms of pure filmmaking, I don’t really have much to say with this picture. It’s a documentary. You can’t judge it the way you judge narrative features. You can’t talk about the acting, the script, or anything of that nature. And unlike other documentaries–like Ken Burns The Civil War, Bill Guttentag’s Nanking, or Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man–this true story doesn’t have an ending. The subjects, Samantha and Anais, are not only still alive, but in their 20s. We don’t know how their stories will conclude. In those other documentaries I mentioned, the subjects were things that had all taken place in the past, and therefore had beginnings, middles, and ends. Films made about them could, therefore, have rising action and climaxes, because, guess what, the real life things did too. Twinsters doesn’t have either of those features. There’s no final confrontation or battle. There’s no neat and tidy ending for Samantha and Anais. The conclusion, if you can call it that, is extremely open. The final shot is of the two women writing a letter to their birth mother, asking her to contact them. It’s powerful and poignant, but also inconclusive. We don’t know if their mother ever does talk to them, or what the two of them do for the rest of their lives. IF this were a narrative feature, I’d have a problem with it. But, since this isn’t a narrative feature, since it’s a documentary about real people who’s stories haven’t ended yet, I don’t mind.
And, with all that said, I did still really love this picture. The story is both powerful and up-lifting. It pulls you in, and gets you to care about Samantha and Anais. It teaches you about the hardships of growing up as an adoptee. And, at the end of the day, there are no structural problems with it. It’s well shot, well edited, and its score is superb. What can I say, it’s an 8 out of 10. Don’t hesitate to watch it on Netflix.
PS–If you’re interested in seeing what films Samantha Futerman is in, she has supporting roles in Memoirs Of A Geisha, 21 And Over, and The Motel.